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Committee of Publication. 


jflassarfmsetts Historical g>ocietp 

Founded 1791 


October, 1911 — June, 1912 

Volume XLV 

$ut>ltefjeD at tfje Cfjarge of tfje WLnttvaton Jfunbsf 



BEttttattg Press: 

John Wilson and Son, Cambridge, 




Accomac, Va., Kingdom of 593 

Adams, Brooks 

The Seizure of the Laird Rams 243 

Adams, Charles Francis (H. U. 1825) 

Selections from his Correspondence on the Trent Affair . . 76 

Adams, Charles Francis 88, 92, 95, 100, 108, 

no, 112, 124, 126, 127, 128, 135, 140 

Amory, Jonathan 125 

Andrew, John A 94 

Argyll, Duke of 137 

Clay, Cassius M 121 

Dana, Richard Henry 82, 97, 131 

Davis> Charles Augustus 106, 117 

Dayton, William L 123 

Everett, Edward 76, 78, 79 

Haycraft, George 126 

Higginson, Stephen 138 

Kennedy, John P 96, 134 

Milnes, Richard Monckton 128 

Motley, John Lothrop 90, 103 

Palfrey, John G 86, 130 

Parkes, Joseph 122 

Russell, Lord John 77 

Schuyler, George L 89 

Winthrop, Robert C 81, 85, 89, 123, 139 

Adams, Charles Francis (H. U. 1856) 

The Tissue of History 7 

The Trent Affair, 1861-1862 35 

Note in reply to R. H. Dana 522 

The Willard Portrait 579 



Adams, Charles Francis (H. U. 1856) — Continued 

The Wilkes Sword 589 

Lafayette on Cavalry 592 

The Kingdom of Accomac 593 


Samuel L. Thomdike 2 

John Bigelow 347 

Allen, Gardner Weld 

Naval Conditions of the American Revolution 560 

American Prisoners in England, 17 75-1 782 16 

Letters of Benjamin Franklin (1781-1782), Sir William 
Howe (1775), and Lord Mansfield (1776) 

Annual Meeting, 1912 542 

Council 542 

Treasurer 548 

Librarian 555 

Cabinet-Keeper 556 

Committee on Library and Cabinet 556 

Officers . 559 

Ashley, Edward 

Depositions on trading arms with the Indians, 1 63 1 . . . 493 

Baylies, Francis 

To Gulian C. Verplanck, 1827 166 

, 1828 . 166 

Andrew Jackson, 1829 169 

Charles E. Dudley, 1829 173 

Hugh Lawson White, 1829 173 

Littleton W. Tazewell, 1829 174 

Edward Livingston, 1829 175 

John E. Wool, 1829 178 

John W. Taylor, 1830 180 

William Baylies, 1834 181 

Bigelow, John 

Tribute to 347 

Bigelow, Melville M. 

Payments to Provincial Officials, 1742-1771, and Primo- 
geniture in Massachusetts 30 

Biglow, William 

Charles Chatterbox's Will, 1794 28 



Biglow Papers, and Mexican War 602 

Bowditch, Charles Pickering 

Tribute to Henry W. Haynes 503 

Bowen, Henry 

To Francis Baylies, 1829 168 

Bradford, Gamaliel 

Tribute to 5 

Bradford mss 627 

Bradford, Gamaliel, Jr. 

The Bradford mss 627 

Bright, John 

Letters to Charles Sumner, 1861-1862 148 

Christ Church, Boston, Vestry Minutes 586 

Codman, Charles R. . . . 

Tribute to Gamaliel Bradford 5 

Cooke, Elisha 

Account of London Agency, 1690 . 644 

Dana, Richard Henry 

The Trent Affair: an Aftermath . 508 

De Normandie, James 

Tribute to Edward H. Hall . 505 

Dexter, Thomas 

Appeal on Nahant, 1657 569 

Documents in Proceedings, xli-xlv, chronological list . . .' 657 

Donors to the Library 661 

Everett, Edward 

Letter to N. A. and R. A. Moore, 1865 353 

Ford, Worthington C. 

Recall of John Quincy Adams, 1808 354 

Tribute to Henry W. Haynes ............ 504 

Willard ms. Life of Henry Knox 581 

Franklin, Benjamin 

To William Hodgson, 1781-1782 19 

Franklin Monument, Old Granary Burial Ground 484 

Gove, Edward, and his Confiscated Estate 628 

Green, Samuel Abbott 

Recollections of the Rebellion 186 

Letter of Edward Everett, 1865 353 

Death of Henry W. Haynes and Edward H. Hall ... 500 

Report of Librarian 555 



Hall, Edward Henry 

Tributes to 5°°, 5°5 

Haynes, Henry Williamson 

Tributes to 5°°> 5°3 

Hoar, Ebenezer Rockwood 

Memoir S3 1 

Hodges, George 

Vestry Minutes, Christ Church, Boston 586 

Howe, Mark A. DeWolee 

Josiah Phillips Quincy 338 

Howe, Sir William 

To Lord Dartmouth, 1775 16 

Hull, Isaac 

Letter to Nathaniel Silsbee, 1820 29 

Hunnewell, James Frothingham 

Memoir . 57 1 

Illustrations : 

Ebenezer Rockwood Hoar Frontispiece 

Josiah Phillips Quincy , . . ...... . 338 

Letter of Solomon Willard 484 

James Frothingham Hunnewell 571 

Index 667 

Iron Works, Lynn 566 

Kellen, William Vail 

James Frothingham Hunnewell 571 


Some Lost Works of Cotton Mather 418 

Lafayette on Cavalry 592 

Lloyd, James 

Letters to John and John Quincy Adams, 181 5-1824 ... 375 
Long, John D. 

Remarks 541 

Lord, Arthur 

Finances of the Society 546 

Report of Treasurer 548 

Lynn Iron Works, c. 1650 566 

Mansfield, Lord 

Letters to and from, 1776 16 

Marlborough, Mass., 1660 568 



Massachusetts, Case of the Patent, 1677 654 

Agency, 1690, report of 644 

Members of the Society 

Resident xii 

Corresponding xiv 

Honorary xiv 

Deceased, 1911-12 xvi 

Morton, Thomas, of Merry Mount, Costs and Inventory ... 641 

Nahant, Mass., Dexter's Appeal 569 

Norcross, Grenville H. 

Report of Cabinet-Keeper 556 

Willard Portrait 580 

Officers of the Society, 191 2 xi 

Otis, Samuel Alleyne 

To James Warren, 1787 479 

James Warren, 1788 333 

Henry Warren, 1809 482 

Philadelphia, Penn., Volunteer Refreshment Saloon 640 

Phrase-Books, XVI Century 588 

Plymouth, Mass., suit of London Partners, 1 64 1 611 

Revolution, American, Naval Conditions 560 

Sanborn, Franklin B. 

Churchmen on the Pascataqua, 1 650-1 690 . 211 

The Willard Portrait 583 

Edward Gove and his Confiscated Estate 628 

Sewall Letters, 1774-1803 23 

Letters from James Sullivan (1774), Caleb Strong (1791), 
John Adams (1802), and John Quincy Adams (1803) 

Siebert, Wilbur H. 

Colony of Massachusetts Loyalists at Bristol, England . . 409 

Sims, fugitive slave, case of 623 

Smith, Jonathan 

Town Grants under Governor Belche 197 

Smith, Justin Harvey 

Biglow Papers as an Argument against the Mexican War . 602 

Storey, Moorfteld 

Ebenezer Rockwood Hoar 531 

Thorndike, Samuel Lothrop 

Tribute to 2 



Trent Affair 

Charles Francis Adams 35, 522 

Richard Henry Dana 508 

Tributes : 

Samuel Lothrop Thorndike, by Charles Francis Adams . . 2 

Gamaliel Bradford, by Charles R. Codman 5 

John Bigelow, by Charles Francis Adams 347 

Henry Williamson Haynes, by Samuel A. Green, Charles P. 

Bowditch, and W. C. Ford 500, 503 

Edward Henry Hall, by Samuel A. Green and Dr. James 

De Normandie 500, 505 

Tudor, William 

To John Adams, 1816 416 

Webster, Daniel 

Letters to Thomas B. Curtis, 1 834-1 851 ........ 159 

Wendell, Barrett, Early Phrase-Books ......... 588 

Whipsufferage (Marlborough) 1660 568 

Wilkes Sword, presentation .... ........... 589 

Willard, Joseph 

Presentation of Portrait 579 




April ii, 191 2. 

Presto Ent 




Hkcoromg, i&ecretarg 

Corrtgponotnu &etretarg 

ARTHUR LORD Plymouth. 




iflftemferg at Harp of % Council 







Hon. Samuel Abbott Green, LL.D. 

Charles Card Smith, A.M. 

Abner Cheney Goodell, A.M. 


Hon. Winslow Warren, LL.B. 
Charles William Eliot, LL.D. 

Charles Francis Adams, LL.D. 

Hon. Henry Cabot Lodge, LL.D. 

John Torrey Morse, Jr., A.B. 


Rev. Henry Fitch Jenks, A.M. 
Rev. Alexander McKenzie, D.D. 


Arthur Lord, A.B. 

Frederic Ward Putnam, S.D. 

James McKellar Bugbee, Esq. 

Edward Channing, Ph.D. 

Edwin Pliny Seaver, A.M. 

Albert Bushnell Hart, LL.D. 
Thornton Kirkland Lothrop, LL.B. 


Henry Fitz-Gilbert Waters, A.M. 
Abbott Lawrence Lowell, LL.D. 

Hon. Oliver Wendell Holmes, LL.D. 
Henry Pickering Walcott, LL.D. 


Hon. Charles Russell Codman, LL.B. 
Barrett Wendell, A.B. 
James Ford Rhodes, LL.D. 


Hon. Edward Francis Johnson, LL.B. 
Rt. Rev. William Lawrence, D.D. 
William Roscoe Thayer, A.M. 


Hon. Thomas Jefferson Coolidge,LL.D. 
Hon. William Wallace Crapo, LL.D. 

Granville Stanley Hall, LL.D. 


Rev. Leverett Wilson Spring, D.D. 
Col. William Roscoe Livermore. 
Hon. Richard Olney, LL.D. 
Lucien Carr, A.M. 



Rev. George Angier Gordon, D.D. 
John Chipman Gray, LL.D. 
Rev. James DeNormandie, D.D. 
Andrew McFarland Davis, A.M. 


Archibald Cary Coolidge, Ph.D. 
Charles Pickering Bowditch, A.M. 

Melville Madison Bigelow, LL.D. 


Thomas Leonard Livermore, A.M. 
Nathaniel Paine, A.M. 
John Osborne Sumner, A.B. 
Arthur Theodore Lyman, A.M. 


Henry Lee Higginson, LL.D. 
Brooks Adams, A.B. 
Grenville Howland Norcross, LL.B. 
Edward Hooker Gilbert, A.B. 


Franklin Benjamin Sanborn, A.B. 
Charles Knowles Bolton, A.B, 
Samuel Savage Shaw, LL.B. 
Ephraim Emerton, Ph.D. 
Waldo Lincoln, A.B. 
Frederic Jesup Stimson, LL.B. 
Edward Stanwood, Litt.D. 
Moorfield Storey, A.M. 


Thomas Minns, Esq. 

Roger Bigelow Merriman, Ph.D. 

Charles Homer Haskins, Litt.D. 


Hon. John Davis Long, LL.D. 
Don Gleason Hill, A.M. 
Theodore Clarke Smith, Ph.D. 
Henry Greenleaf Pearson, A.B. 
Bliss Perry, LL.D. 


Edwin Doak Mead, Esq. 

Edward Henry Clement, Litt.D. 

William Endicott, A.M. 

Lindsay Swift, A.B. 

Hon. George Sheldon. 

Mark Antony DeWolfe Howe, A.M. 

Arnold Augustus Rand, Esq. 


Jonathan Smith, A.B. 
Albert Matthews, A.B. 
William Vail Kellen, LL.D. 


Frederic Winthrop, A.B. 
Hon. Robert Samuel Rantoul, LL.B. 
George Lyman Kittredge, LL.D. 
Charles Pelham Greenough, LL.B. 
Henry Ernest Woods, A.M. 


Worthington Chauncey Ford, A.M. 
William Coolidge Lane, A.B. 


Hon. Samuel Walker McCall, LL.D. 
John Collins Warren, LL.D. 
Harold Murdock, Esq. 
Henry Morton Lovering, A.M. 
Edward Waldo Emerson, M.D. 
Hon. Curtis Guild, LL.D. 
Frederick Jackson Turner, Litt.D. 
Gardner Weld Allen, M.D. 


Henry Herbert Edes, A.M. 
George Hubbard Blakeslee, Ph.D. 
George Hodges, LL.D. 
Richard Henry Dana, LL.B. 
George Foot Moore, LL.D. 
Gamaliel Bradford, Jr., Esq. 
Justin Harvey Smith LL.D. 


John Spencer Bassett, Ph.D. 
Malcolm Storer, M.D. 


Rt. Hon. James Bryce, D.C.L. 


Rt. Hon. Sir George Otto Trevelyan, 
Bart, D.C.L. 

Pasquale Villari, D.C.L. 


Adolf Harnack, D.D. 

Rt. Hon. Viscount Morley, D.C.L. 

Ernest Lavisse. 



Rear-Admiral Alfred Thayer Mahan, 


Henry Adams, LL.D. 

Eduard Meyer, Litt.D. 

Hon. Andrew Dickson White, D.C.L. 


Rev. William Cunningham, LL.D. 

Hubert Howe Bancroft, A.M. 


Joseph Florimond Loubat, LL.D. 
Charles Henry Hart, LL.B. 

Franklin Bowditch Dexter, Litt.D. 

Rev. Charles Richmond Weld, LL.D. 

Hon. James Burrill Angell, LL.D. 


Hon. Woodrow Wilson, LL.D. 
Hon. Joseph Hodges Choate, D.C.L. 

John Franklin Jameson, LL.D. 


Hon. Simeon Eben Baldwin, LL.D. 
John Bassett Moore, LL.D. 


Frederic Harrison, Litt.D. 
Frederic Bancroft, LL.D. 
Charles Harding Firth, LL.D. 
William James Ashley, M.A. 


John Bach McMaster, LL.D. 
Albert Venn Dicey, LL.D. 
Reuben Gold Thwaites, LL.D. 
John Christopher Schwab, Ph.D. 


Rev. Arthur Blake Ellis, LL.B. 

Auguste Moireau. 

Hon. Horace Davis, LL.D. 



Sidney Lee, LL.D. 


William Archibald Dunning, LL.D. 
James Schouler, LL.D. 
George Parker Winship, A.M. 
Gabriel Hanotaux. 
Hubert Hall. 


Andrew Cunningham McLaughlin, 

Hon. Beekman Winthrop, LL.B. 


Hon. James Phinney Baxter, Litt.D. 
Wilberforce Eames, A.M. 
George Walter Prothero, LL.D. 
Hon. Jean Jules Jusserand, LL.D. 
James Kendall Hosmer, LL.D. 


John Bagnell Bury, LL.D. 
Rafael Altamira y Crevea. 

Hon. James Wilberforce Longley, 

Henry Morse Stephens, Litt.D. 
Charles Borgeaud, LL.D. 


Lyon Gardiner Tyler, LL.D. 
Clarence Bloomfield Moore, A.B. 


Edward Doubleday Harris, Esq. 


Charles William Chadwick Oman, 

Samuel Verplanck Hoffman, Esq. 
William Milligan Sloane, LL.D. 


Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, LL.D. 
Rear-Admiral French Ensor Chad 

William MacDonald, LL.D. 

July, 1911 — June, 1912. 


1878, Gamaliel Bradford Aug. 20, 1911. 

1879, Henry Williamson Haynes Feb. 16, 1912. 

1886, William Watson Goodwin June 16, 191 2. 

1899, Edward Henry Hall Feb. 22, 1912. 


1875, John Bigelow Dec. 19, 1911. 

1880, Sir James MacPherson LeMoine Feb. 5, 191 2. 

1896, William Babcock Weeden March 28, 191 2. 




THE stated meeting was held on Wednesday, the nth 
instant, at three o'clock, p.m.; the President in the 

The record of the last meeting was read and approved; 
and the Librarian reported the list of donors to the Library 
since the June meeting. 

The Cabinet-Keeper reported the gift of a photograph of 
Rev. Joseph Jackson, minister of the First Parish in Brook- 
line from 1760 to 1796, from a portrait by Copley, given by 
his great-granddaughter Miss Elizabeth Bo wen Brown; also 
the purchase by the Society of eighty bronze medals — in- 
cluding the presidential series — from the United States mint. 
He called attention to an old chair, given by Mr. Hathorne 
of Salem, in July, 1793, which had recently been repaired. 

The Corresponding Secretary reported the receipt of letters 
from Richard H. Dana, accepting his election as a Resident 
Member, and from William Milligan Sloane as a Correspond- 
ing Member. 

The Editor reported the gifts, by Alexander P. Browne, of 
a number of manuscript sermons of Samuel Wigglesworth, 
physician and preacher at Maiden, Massachusetts; by Miss 
Lucia A. Dow, of Milton, through Mr. Shaw, of an original 
deed of pew number 48, in Kings Chapel, in the name of 
Dorothy Wharton; by Mr. Wendell, of two manuscripts, one 
being a brief journal of a journey from Dover, New Hamp- 
shire, to Piggwacket, and a curious watermark, intended to 


represent the seal of Massachusetts; by Ellis B. Usher, of 
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, of a typewritten copy of the recol- 
lections of Samuel Dwight Partridge (1806-1893), who came 
from Hatfield, Massachusetts, and died in Milwaukee. 

George Foot Moore, of Cambridge, was elected a Resident 
Member of the Society. 

The President then said : 

When, on the second Thursday of June, the Society held 
its last meeting prior to the usual summer adjournment, there 
were 98 names upon its Resident roll. One name was added 
to the list at that meeting and during the intervening months 
two deaths have occurred. 

Samuel Lothrop Thorndike, elected a Resident Member at 
the December meeting of 1901, died at his summer home in 
Weston on June 18, ten days after the meeting referred to, at 
which he was present. 

Although elected only ten years ago, at the time of his 
death Mr. Thorndike stood fiftieth on the roll of membership. 
Born at Beverly in December, 1829, at the time of his election 
he was approaching the close of his seventy-second year. 
Naturally, therefore, becoming a member so late in life, his 
activities in connection with the Society were limited. Never- 
theless, made a member of the Council at the annual meeting of 
1903, he served upon it two years. Subsequently a member 
of the House Committee, he acted as such for a further term 
of two years. In 1906 he was appointed auditor of the Treas- 
urer's accounts. During the first four years of his member- 
ship, and up to December, 1905, he was present at nearly every 
one of our meetings; but of the remaining fifty-four meetings 
held before his death, he attended only nine. A steadily in- 
creasing impairment of hearing in a measure precluded him. 
In 1902 he paid a tribute to his classmate and life-long friend, 
James B. Thayer, when the death of the latter was announced; 
and he was appointed to prepare memoirs both of him and 
of the late John Fiske. Neither of these has been filed, nor, 
so far as is known, was the preparation of either begun. 
They have now been elsewhere assigned. 

A graduate of the Harvard class of 1852, Mr. Thorndike 
had outlived his immediate associates in the Society, and there 


is no one here who can speak of him with close personal knowl- 
edge. I shall, therefore, not call for the tribute, or characteri- 
zation, usual on these occasions. Graduated in the very year 
in which the class of which I was a member entered Harvard, 
I had no acquaintance whatever, even by reputation, with 
Mr. Thorndike as a student. I recall him, however, dis- 
tinctly during the years which succeeded graduation. In 
accordance with a practice then already not unusual, Mr. 
Thorndike emphasized graduation by foreign travel. In fact 
he did not even wait for his commencement-day, but in the 
January preceding started in company with his intimate col- 
lege friend and classmate, W. Sturgis Hooper, on a sailing-ship 
round-the-world voyage. Returning from this experience, one 
hardly practicable now, he entered the Harvard Law School, 
and settled down to a study of the profession. Finally, he 
was a student in the office of Sidney Bartlett. Subsequently 
devoting himself to his calling, although his and my relations 
were always friendly and such as are apt to be maintained 
between men who were, practically, in college at the same 
period, — that is, in our case, during the administration of 
President Walker, — I came but little in contact with him ; 
less, indeed, than I would have wished. 

Mr. Thorndike was a man of a very distinct personality, 
and an engaging personality. He was essentially what Dr. 
Johnson defined as a "clubable" man, — that is, his well- 
developed natural social instincts were allowed free play. 
Entertaining and companionable, he had engaging manners, 
with a keen sense of humor. So, naturally, during college 
life, he was a deputy marshal of the Porcellian Club. Though a 
member of the bar, he was not what is known as an active 
practitioner or jury advocate. In fact, like so many others 
who take it up, though the law was his calling, to the law Mr. 
Thorndike had no particular call. He was far from being 
what is commonly known as a " hustler for business." Re- 
fined by nature, his aptitude was for music; and there is 
little in common between the jury-box and the orchestra. I 
am told that Mr. Thorndike did, in his earlier professional 
days, appear as of counsel in cases before the full bench, both 
in Massachusetts and at Washington; but I doubt if he ever 
presented a cause to a jury, nor could I possibly imagine him 


browbeating a recalcitrant witness or bullying an opposing 
counsel of aggressive manners. He was a man of too fine a 
fibre for that sort of work; he could not have so coarsened his 
being. While, therefore, the law was his profession and a 
source of income to him, music was his calling and delight. 
Doubtless he felt far more at home and in his element while 
listening to an orchestra than when arguing in a court, even 
one of probate. The result naturally to be looked for under 
such conditions in due time followed. He devoted himself 
more and more to the promotion of music; and, incidentally 
as it were, was occupied with the management of properties. 
Trusteeship became the substance of his office life. On the 
other hand, deeply interested in societies like the Handel and 
Haydn, which by a natural educational process led up to the 
system of Symphony Concerts so identified with the later 
Boston musical development, he was, I am told, a frequent 
contributor to Dwightfs Journal of Music, standing very close 
to its founder and editor. Never concerning himself to any 
marked degree in either politics or productive literature, he 
yet had a natural taste for historical topics local in character; 
and, though this trait never assumed any considerable or even 
definite shape, it was to it his election to our Society was due. 
An attractive personality, instinctively a gentleman in feel- 
ing as well as in bearing, Mr. Thorndike will be borne in fresh 
recollection by the few yet left who were fortunate enough to 
be his associates through a long and useful, though in no way 
eventful, life. A memoir of him, prepared by a member of 
his family, is herewith submitted and will find its regular place 
in our Proceedings. 

Gamaliel Bradford, third of the name on our roll of mem- 
bership, died as the result of a trolley-car accident, at Wellesley, 
on the 20th of August last. At the time of his death his name 
stood ninth in order of seniority, he having been elected a 
Resident Member at the April meeting of 1878. One of five of 
the Harvard class of 1849 members of the Society, at the time 
of his death Mr. Bradford was in his eighty-first year, Mr. 
Codman and Mr. Lothrop of the five surviving him. As I have 
said, he was the third of the name borne on our roll; the 
first Gamaliel Bradford, having been elected in 1797, died in 
March, 1824; the second, elected at the April meeting, 1825, 


died in 1839. An interval of nearly forty years, therefore, 
elapsed between the death of the second Gamaliel and the 
election of the third. Graduating three years before Mr. 
Thorndike, I shall presently call upon his life-long friend, Mr. 
Codman, for a characterization. The preparation of a memoir 
will be assigned later. 

So far as this Society is concerned, Mr. Bradford was until 
very recent years, when a growing deafness interfered with 
his participation, a constant attendant at our meetings. A 
man of marked individuality, he was also, as the printed re- 
ports of our Proceedings bear witness, an active and interested 
member. Never of the Council, he frequently participated in 
our discussions, and always with earnestness, speaking usually 
on subjects connected with government. In regard to those 
he held pronounced views; and with those views all acquainted 
with him could hardly fail to be familiar. A very insistent 
reformer, he is mentioned as having been present at no less 
than 144 of our meetings, the last being that of February, 

Mr. Codman on being called upon, gave the following tribute: 

As Gamaliel Bradford's classmate of the class of 1849 a t 
Harvard College, and always his friend, I am glad to have the 
opportunity of saying a few words. 

Others can tell better than myself something of the details 
of his activity and success in business, of which I know nothing 
except by report, though I am convinced, from my knowledge 
of the temperament and character of the man, that his ability, 
energy and industry would be quite as manifest, and perhaps 
more effective, in what is called business than in public affairs. 

The problems of politics, even when their unravelling is 
undertaken by master minds, are, I think, much more difficult 
of solution than those of mere money-getting can ever be. 
Bradford, though he never held an office, was both a thinker 
and an actor in public affairs. No one, however, was less of a 
" politician, " in the somewhat discreditable sense in which the 
word is now used. He was an independent thinker upon 
public affairs, and his ardent temperament never permitted 
him to refrain from the expression of his opinions. He was 


quite unable merely to hold convictions and not to avow them. 
His voice was always ready to be heard; and his pen was 
always ready to register and set forth his opinions with ability, 
energy and fearlessness. He was an " independent " in the best 
sense of the word. Neither abuse nor ridicule had the power 
to move him in the open and persistent avowal of his opinions. 

I recall him in his college days as a faithful student who 
graduated with high rank in his class — and it would have 
been yet higher, I believe, if he had not then, as always, given 
much of his time and thought to subjects which were no part 
of a college " curriculum," sixty years ago. There was a fine 
element of chivalry in his character. He was always ready to 
lead or to follow a " forlorn hope " in politics, however desperate 
might be the chances of success. This was never more marked 
than when, in 1896, he presented himself as an independent 
candidate for Governor of Massachusetts, with absolutely no 
apparent support; and this he did, as I know, not because he 
saw any prospect of being elected, but because he thought 
that his candidacy might incline his fellow-citizens at least to 
read and consider the independent views that he earnestly 
held in relation to certain methods of State government which 
he thought harmful and unsound. That he received some 
three thousand votes at the election, and this with no "ma- 
chine" to help him, with no campaign managers or public 
meetings, and with no support in the press, would seem to 
indicate that he was not so Quixotic as even some of his 
friends thought him. 

Bradford was a lineal descendant of Governor Bradford of 
the old Plymouth Colony. He must have been proud of such 
an ancestry, but he was absolutely free from any conceit on 
that account. With all his energy and positiveness there was 
never a touch of arrogance or bitterness in his speech or his 
writings, in public or in private life. He was eighty years old 
when he met the unhappy accident that cost him his life. I 
believe that his moral and intellectual force had not been 
diminished by old age. He did not live long enough to see his 
views prevail. The unpopular causes of " Anti-Imperialism " 
and of reform in the machinery of government may have made 
some advance, though their success may still seem far away. 

In this Bradford has met the fate of many honest and 


earnest reformers, who have not lived to see the success of 
ideas for which they strenuously contended and for which 
they were ready to make all needed sacrifices. 

It was a striking peculiarity of Bradford's character that 
he never seemed desirous of becoming a rich man. The re- 
markable ability that he manifested when he was in business 
soon gave him what he considered a competency, and more 
than that he never seemed to desire. When that competency 
was acquired, he gave up business and money making, and 
devoted himself to the more congenial work of studying and 
expressing the great principles of sound finance and of clean 
and honest politics as he understood them, and this not 
merely for the gratification of his intellectual tendencies, but 
also, and chiefly, for what he believed to be for the welfare of 
his fellow-citizens. > 

It was eminently fitting that he should be a member of this 
Society. His name was historical, his integrity was absolute, 
and his speech was always strong and courteous and sincere. 
His name and memory well deserve a conspicuous place upon 
our records. 

Professor Channing gave a summary account of the Ameri- 
can customs revenue and expenditures, 1767-1777, based upon 
a statement prepared by Charles Steuart, cashier in the service, 
for the Treasury officials in England. This statement will be 
used in a volume of the Society's Collections on the subject of 
the customs administration in the British colonies in America. 

The President read the following paper: 

Whenever this Society is about to meet after what may be 
termed the summer's intermission I have almost regularly, 
since I have occupied this chair, found myself instinctively 
looking back over the months which have elapsed, and en- 
deavoring to make up my mind whether, during those months, 
anything has anywhere occurred of what may be termed true 
historical importance, — that is, some event, either in this 
country or abroad, which will stand clearly out in the per- 
spective of history. For, as Carlyle made Teufelsdrockh 
observe, in those months he who observingly looked might 
see "a living link in that Tissue of History, which inweaves 


all Being: watch well, or it will be past thee, and seen no 

As a rule, I have not deemed the results of the earlier of 
these intermission retrospections worthy of a place in our 
Proceedings. Nor, perhaps, should I now, but for the fact 
that, this meeting being held on a day of the week unusual 
with us, it occurred to me that matter suitable for the occasion 
might not be forthcoming; and, in such case, it would be 
well that something should be in reserve to fill out the con- 
ventional allotment of time. I have accordingly set down 
the result of my observations so far as the events since we last 
met are concerned; and, as nothing else appears to be forth- 
coming, I will now submit that result for what it may be worth. 

I have alluded to the perspective of history. As we all 
know, that perspective produces results somewhat similar to 
those produced when an opera glass is reversed. Objects 
which at the time loom large, and occupy considerable place 
in the eye and mind, when the glass is reversed and they assume 
their proper proportions, are apt to be, if not wholly lost or 
forgotten, yet seen in distinctly different relations to things 
at large, — the general scheme of the universe. They usually, 
in fact, assume an insignificance and remoteness which at the 
passing moment would hardly have seemed probable, if in- 
deed possible. Whoever chooses to recall the excitement and 
intensity of our political experiences and presidential cam- 
paigns has a realizing consciousness of this truism. A fifty 
years' retrospect, for instance, is ordinarily a great solvent. 

Yet in the present case fifty years from the recess which we 
have just passed through would carry us back to events not 
likely to be forgotten by those at least who participated in 
them, or to be much reduced in proportion, to other events by 
the further lapse of time. For it was the July of 1861 which 
witnessed the first really memorable event of our Civil War, 
after the firing on Sumter, to wit, what is known in history as 
the Battle of Bull Run, — an experience "writ large," as Milton 
would have expressed it, on our annals, — not less large than 
Braddock's defeat, a little over a century before. On the 8th 
of November, also, the day preceding our next regular meeting, 
occurred the famous Slidell-Mason incident, known as that 
of the steamer Trent, an episode which at the time produced, 


as all now over sixty years of age cannot but recall, a frenzy of 
excitement, — a frenzy in which Americans now see little to 
take pride. As some here will remember, my father then 
represented the country at the court of St. James, and his 
diary entries and correspondence in connection with the Trent 
affair are not without historical value as well as interest. 
Should I be present at the coming November meeting, I think 
it not impossible, therefore, I may have something to say 
bearing on that event. 

Going yet further back to what might be called century- 
perspective, we get to a period when both the world in general 
and the United States in particular were on the threshold of 
events than which none history has recorded were greater. It 
was in June, 181 2, — ninety-nine years ago, — that war was 
declared between the United States and Great Britain, and 
during that same month Napoleon also declared war with 
Russia. It was during this month of October of the same year 
that Napoleon, amid the smoking ruins of Moscow, was vainly 
endeavoring to devise some scheme of extrication from the 
utterly impossible position — political, military and diplo- 
matic — into which he had wantonly forced himself. 

Bearing in mind these great historic events of the half cen- 
tury gone, and of the full century back, it is curious to con- 
sider whether anything has occurred during the last four months 
which is likely to be writ equally large in history, or in moment 
at all to approach them. It is safe to say that there is nothing 
either in dramatic interest or in historic importance in the 
record of the last three months at all approaching to either 
the Bull Run episode or the events which slowly yet surely 
led up to the military and naval operations of 1812. 

Nevertheless, and this notwithstanding, I am strongly in- 
clined to think that since we last met in June four occurrences 
of no little historical importance are to be recorded — occur- 
rences which history will not silently pass over. More signifi- 
cant, perhaps, than dramatic, they yet are suggestive, — 
milestones, in their way. 

The first of these, almost revolutionary in its character, 
was the act of Parliament, passed, as it were under protest, 
on the 10th of last August, which practically converted the 
government of Great Britain from the bi-cameral constitu- 


tional system to the single chamber system. Abolished in the 
time of the Commonwealth, the House of Lords again came 
into life at the Restoration, in 1660; and, for over two centuries 
and a half, Great Britain has been representative of what may 
perhaps best be described as an oligarcho-democratic parlia- 
mentary system. It ceased to be so since this Society last met, 
when the Lords passed, perforce, under the Caudine Forks. 
Hereafter the Commons represent the legislative power of 
Great Britain, practically unchecked. What the result of this 
momentous act will be it is useless now even to attempt to 
forecast. To say that the English are a peculiar people is a 
commonplace ; very set in their processes, never taking counsel 
from outside, they stumble along in their unintelligent, though 
by no means incoherent way; and yet, through the exercise of 
an innate common-sense, they achieve political results far better 
than those apt to be elsewhere achieved by communities which 
pride themselves upon their greater quickness of apprehension, 
and more scientific methods guided by a logical turn of 
thought. Not improbably it will prove so in the present case. 
Were an organic problem of such manifest importance to pre- 
sent itself here, we in America would, with our system of 
written constitutions, be compelled to a recourse to the Con- 
vention. It is true we did not do so between the years 1865 
and 1870; that, however, was emphatically a revolutionary 
period. Nothing was then approached in a spirit of calmness; 
all rules, and most restraints, were set aside. The result was 
that we did indeed wallow and flounder through after a 
fashion, but the process was one upon which I think it safe 
to say the American people, as a whole, do not look back 
with complacency, and one which the future historian will 
scarcely fail to visit with severest censure. 

Dealing, however, with the ordinary course of affairs and 
slow working of influences, as the people of Great Britain have 
recently been called on to do, we in America would almost 
unquestionably consider the regular legislative procedure un- 
equal to the occasion; and so, manifestly, it was in Great 
Britain. The reorganization of the House of Lords, if the 
bi-cameral system was to be preserved at all, should have 
been approached as nearly as possible in a non-partisan spirit. 
The crisis has been met in a way wholly different. The real 


question immediately at issue, as every one both here and 
there realizes, has been, not the reform of the House of 
Lords, but to remove an obstacle in the way of Irish Home 
Rule. And so it has been openly proclaimed that the re- 
habilitation of the House of Lords on a basis more in con- 
formity with twentieth-century conditions must wait until 
after the Irish question is disposed of; and the Irish question 
could not be disposed of until the House of Lords, an obstacle 
in its path, was overcome or removed. Hence, from our point 
of view, the order of proper procedure was reversed. A con- 
stitutional revolution has been prematurely worked in order that 
a vexatious political question may be disposed of out of hand. 

It remains to be seen what will follow. Will the second 
chamber be re-established on a footing of equality with the 
dominating and popular chamber, or will it gradually fall into 
contempt, and finally be done away with as an archaic insti- 
tution become quite useless? One of the most vigorous and 
incisive historical disquisitions Hallam ever wrote — a model 
in its way — is that contained in Chapter XIV of his Con- 
stitutional History, entitled " The Reign of James II." Writ- 
ing con amove, and as an English Whig of the school now 
extinct, Hallam at the close of this chapter calls attention to 
the fact that the system established in 1688 was in its " pre- 
dominating character aristocratical." Prior to that time, 
what is known in English constitutional history as Preroga- 
tive was the ruling factor. The decisive change was wrought 
in the Convention of 1688, when what Hallam describes in 
sufficient detail as the " aristocratical " element became domi- 
nant. The system then devised has endured, with evident 
signs, especially of late, of laboring and growing instability, 
from 1688 to 191 1. The change was worked in August. 
The " aristocratical " element then finally and formally gave 
way to what is unmistakably the democratic element. Great 
Britain entered upon a new phase of constitutional existence. 
A revolution occurred. Whatever is to ensue in the more 
or less remote future, it would now be useless to philosophize 
over; one thing is certain, — the critical period occurred, and 
was met, in August. This event assuredly will go into his- 
tory as, to say the least, very memorable. It is an appreciable 
thread in Teufelsdrockh's "Tissue of History." 


The next incident which I am disposed to consider History 
will pause upon as memorable, is the course recently pursued 
by the Dominion of Canada in rejecting the Reciprocity arrange- 
ment, so called to distinguish it from a treaty, effected by 
President Taft; and by him forced through the United States 
Senate in a fashion indisputably masterful. This arrange- 
ment was not finally acted on by the Senate until the close 
of the month of August. The necessary corresponding action 
was taken adversely by the Dominion of Canada in Sep- 
tember. President Taft referred in anticipation to the 
action of Canada as a "parting of the ways." In other 
words, the time had arrived when the Dominion was to 
indicate its preference to closer trade relations with its 
neighbor, the United States, rather than to the preferential 
imperial system advocated by Mr. Chamberlain and the so- 
called " tariff reformers" in Great Britain. Not professing 
to any particular information concerning the grounds upon 
which the electorate of the Dominion acted in so emphati- 
cally rejecting this advance on our part, I am yet inclined to 
believe that what was done was not actuated by a feeling 
of preference to Great Britain, or loyalty to the Empire. I 
have neither seen nor heard of anything which would lead me 
personally to suppose that the ties connecting the Dominion 
of Canada with Great Britain are now really close and strong, 
either commercially or as a matter of sentiment. On the con- 
trary, whatever I have seen or heard of late years — and I 
have both seen and heard something — has led me to believe 
that what might be called the loyalty of the Dominion to 
Great Britain is a negligible quantity. In fact, in large portions 
of the Dominion, whether east or west, it can hardly be said 
to exist. Especially have I been struck with this fact when 
brought in contact with representative men of the Eastern 
Provinces. They have, indeed, spoken of Great Britain and 
of their connection with the Empire in terms not indicative 
of what is usually considered either loyalty or patriotism. 
The connecting bond was the reverse of binding. My own 
impression is, therefore, that the electorate decision of Septem- 
ber last was in the nature of a declaration of independence. 
The spirit of nationality has of late waxed strong in the Do- 
minion; and, looking confidently forward to freeing itself 


of its dependence on the mother country in everything but 
name — reducing it, as Great Britain has reduced royalty, to 
a state pageant — Canada did not regard with -enthusiasm 
the suggestion that it should establish closer relations with 
the United States. In other words, the spirit of nationality 
asserted itself; and immediate commercial advantages were 
rejected because of an apprehension that in some way they 
would lead, by force of what might be known as economi- 
cal gravitation, to a new and different dependency. If such 
was indeed the fact, there can be little doubt that the Canadian 
electoral action of September 21 foreshadowed the not remote 
introduction on our continent of an independent nationality. 
If this should prove to be the case, it is an event which the 
future historian of affairs is not likely to ignore. It is another 
very visible thread in "that Tissue of History." 

Next to these events in importance, but still of very con- 
siderable moment historically, has been the prevailing unrest 
— social, economic, political — manifest both in Europe and 
in this country. The contest, known as that between Organ- 
ized Labor and Concentrated Capital, last month reached a 
critical stage in Great Britain. The Government was forced 
to interfere, and the soldiery were called upon. Echoes of 
what there happened may now be heard in this country as 
well as in Spain and France. While temporarily the exigency 
was in Great Britain met after a fashion, yet it was none the 
less most suggestive as to the future both there and here. It 
was last month demonstrated that the present situation, both 
social and industrial, is one of unstable equilibrium. The 
individualism of the nineteenth century was giving way to 
the collectivism of the twentieth. The existing status cannot 
last long. Labor is plainly perfecting its organization, and a 
conflict is impending. What shape this will take, or what the 
outcome will be, it would be useless to attempt now to fore- 
cast. One thing only is clear, — the events of September 
were of a character most suggestive of something not remotely 
impending. It, again, is a thread in "that Tissue of History." 

Finally, one other episode of our intermission period, the 
full significance of which is yet to be developed. I refer to 
what is known as the Morocco incident in European politics. 
Manifestly we have not seen the end of that. A truce only 


has been established. The underlying situation failed to 
develop itself. As I read it, — probably mistakenly, — the 
conditions have much future significance. What occurred 
indicated a most noticeable change imperceptibly worked dur- 
ing the last thirty years, in what may best be termed the 
solidarity of nations. In other words, internal, unseen influ- 
ences, financial and economical, asserted themselves, which 
practically imposed a policy where in previous stages of world 
history recourse would have been had to individual action of 
a national but wholly different character. 

In the Morocco incident, the attitude of Germany was 
at the outset, to say the least, menacing. Under conditions 
formerly existing, the way in which this attitude was met by 
France could hardly have failed to lead to hostilities. It did 
fail, however, and the course pursued by Germany in, so to 
speak, modifying its demands, if not desisting from them, is 
to be accounted for. So far as is now apparent, this "back- 
down," for such it was, was the result solely of financial pres- 
sure brought to bear from Paris and London, acting in com- 
bination. Had Prussia, or Germany, persisted in the line of 
policy clearly foreshadowed, such action would have been met 
by a financial and commercial crisis, the point of concentration 
of which would have been Berlin, as would have resulted in 
something closely resembling national bankruptcy, with the 
accompanying industrial unrest. In other words, a financial 
panic and labor disturbance would have been precipitated, 
the possibility even of which caused the imperial government 
first to hesitate and then stop, accepting the situation practi- 
cally forced upon it. Looked at from our point of view, the 
question next suggests itself, what does this signify generally 
so far as the future is concerned? Has the world, by a closer 
interlacing and combination of interests, — financial, com- 
mercial, industrial, and economical, — entered upon a new 
phase of development, in which wars of the old description 
must cease? Here, manifestly, is a problem of first-class 
historical importance, presented since our June meeting. 
While to-day it would seem not improbable that, under former 
conditions, a struggle of the old-fashioned description was con- 
templated, a continental power of the very first class, when it 
came face to face with what hostilities now necessarily would 


and possibly might involve, found itself under heavy bonds 
not to break the peace. To express it in a different way, in 
the forty years which have elapsed since the Franco-Prussian 
war of 1870, commercial relations have so expanded, financial 
conditions have, so to speak, so internationalized themselves, 
and economical and industrial threads have become so inter- 
woven in the tissue, that it is questionable whether, in spite 
of manifest naval and military preparations, a war of the 
character of those so frequently and even lightly entered upon 
in the nineteenth century, yet more in the eighteenth, is longer 
probable. Its possible and remote consequences are too con- 
siderable. Local struggles and hostilities of a minor character 
must, of course, be anticipated in the future, as in the past; 
but is it not fairly open to question whether anything even 
remotely approaching the Napoleonic period is longer to be 
apprehended? It has thus become a question of the budget 
and of industrial order. Viewed in this light, the Morocco 
incident was unquestionably significant. Of exactly what it 
may have been significant it would be useless at this time 
here to discuss or to attempt to forecast. But that it was in 
the nature of another most noticeable thread in the tissue, 
there seems room hardly for doubt. 

Looked at from these points of view, it would seem not 
impossible that the period of a brief three months elapsed 
since we last met, including as it did (i) a Parliamentary 
revolution in Great Britain, (2) the birth of a new nationality 
on the American continent, (3) an industrial unrest of world- 
wide importance, which fell narrowly short of a crisis, and 
finally, (4) an international episode indicative of underlying 
forces the presence and importance of which were certainly 
not before appreciated, — it would seem, I say, not impossible 
that these, taken together, make up a combination which 
deserves the careful consideration of thoughtful men, and one 
of which history will scarcely fail to make note. 

In any event, placing this review of a vacation period on 
file in our printed Proceedings, I at least furnish material for 
some future investigator, more or less curiously turning over 
the leaves of our publications, to compare a present and con- 
temporaneous estimate of the significance of passing events 
with the future's actualities. 


In behalf of Professor Guernsey Jones, of the University of 
Nebraska, Mr. Ford presented copies of five letters found 
in the Public Records Office, London, relating to the subject 
of prisoners in the War of Independence. 

Sir William Howe to Lord Dartmouth. 

Boston, 14th December, 1775. 

My Lord, — The Crew of the Rebel Privateer being sent to 
England Prisoners on Board the Tartar, a Measure which I have 
presumed to advise, may occasion some Inconveniencies to Gov- 
ernment, by affording an Opportunity to certain factious Persons 
and their Adherents, who never fail to calumniate and embarrass 
all public Transactions, to signalize themselves in their Support: 
But I was led to advise this Measure on a Supposition that it would 
spread great Terror among the sea-faring People in this Country, 
who, remaining ignorant of the Fate of their Brethren, will be 
impressed with an Idea of their being sent Home to suffer by the 
Hands of Justice, which the Treatment of them here could not 
effect, without exposing many to Vengeance by Retaliation: Be- 
sides I could wish a Distinction to be made between Prisoners 
taken on Shore and on the Sea, which last Mode of War will hurt 
us more effectually than any Thing they can do by Land during 
our stay at this Place. . . . 

W. Howe. 

to Lord Mansfield. 

Marble Hill, August 6th, 1776. 

My dear Lord, — Relying on the Indulgence with which you 
have repeatedly treated me, as well as on your Regard for the 
King's Service, I beg leave to state a Point of Business to you of 
some Nicety, and to ask your Sentiments upon it, by no Means 
Ministerially, or with Intention to make any ostensible Use of 
them, but as a private Friend for my own Guidance. 

An American Vessel, called the Yankee, fitted out and armed 
for the Purpose of intercepting British Ships, lately took two West 
India Men, and sending them forward to the New-England Coast, 
proceeded on her Cruize, in the Course of which, the People (to the 
Number, of 14) whom She had removed from the Capture, watch- 
ing their Opportunity turned the Captors into Prisoners, and brought 
[the ship to] the Port of London. It is now referred to me from 
the Board of Admiralty to say what shall be done with the Prison- 

191 1.] AMERICAN PRISONERS IN ENGLAND, 1775-1782. 1 7 

ers, who consist of Four Men calling themselves Officers, nineteen 
Privates and two Slaves. With regard to the Common Men, I 
feel little or no Difficulty in suffering them to be removed aboard 
one of His Majesty's Ships intended to proceed immediately on the 
East-India Station; there are however several obvious Objections 
to giving the same Treatment to the other Four; And it is perhaps 
a decisive one, that it would certainly expose His Majesty's com- 
missioned Officers to a cruel and disgracefull Retaliation. The next 
Mode that presents itself is to send them back as was very wisely 
suggested and practiced with regard to the Canada prisoners who 
were brought to Pendennis Castle; But I am not singular in seeing 
a great Distinction between the two Cases. In the first Place, the 
Situation of Affairs is extremely different, and the Motives which 
then made it the Duty of Government to temporize, no longer 
exist in the same Degree, and will, it may be expected, totally cease 
in the Course of the present Campaign. In the next Place the Crime 
of these Men is very different from that of Ethan Allen and his 
Associates, and the Tendency of leaving it unpunished is infinitely 
more interesting and extensive. The Rebels engaged in a Land 
Service, in which there is no* Plunder to be gained, nor any better 
Return than Sixpence a Day for all the Hardships and Hazards 
which they undergo, will, whenever the Interval comes for cool 
Reflection, find sufficient Discouragement in the mere Circum- 
stances of their Situation: But the Reasoning of Rebels who turn 
to Piracy is very different; They expose themselves to little or no 
personal Danger in the Attack of unarm'd Vessels, and if they make 
one valuable Capture, they acquire, according to their Ideas, im- 
mense Fortunes; If, added to this, they find that when accidentally 
or otherwise taken Prisoners they are to be dismiss'd without Punish- 
ment, they will then have the compleat and irresistible Temptation 
of great probable Gain without any possible Risk. These Considera- 
tions are too obvious to escape our Merchants who are, at the 
Moment, particularly interested in the Subject; And the illegal 
Act which in the Case of Allen had the tacit Approbation of the 
Kingdom would, I apprehend, be very differently considered, if 
extended to the Four Men abovementioned; It might in this Case 
be thought a dangerous Relaxation of Government and excite much 
Clamour. I shall be anxious to know your Lordship's Opinion; 
I do not suppose that there can be much Difficulty in keeping the 
Men aboard a Guardship for the present, or even that if any fac- 
tious Man should force Us to commit them, that the Trial can be 
forced on in the Admiralty Courts before the Issue of the present 
Contest is in Effect brought about. 


The whole of what I mean to submit to your Lordship may be 
reduced to the three following Heads: 

i. Whether to give up all Idea of commencing a legal Prosecu- 
tion against these Men for their Crime. 

2. Whether to keep them in a Guardship 'till the Turn of the 
Campaign is more decided. 

3. Whether to commit them at once for the Piracy. 

[Indorsed] Draft to Lord Mansfield August 6th, 1776. Private. 
Lord Mansfield to . 

Guildford, 8 August, 1776. 

My dear Lord, — I had the honour of your Lordships letter 
upon the Road, and sit down to write the instant of my arrival. It 
gives me great pleasure that you do me the Justice to believe there 
is no assistance in my Power which I would not readily give from 
personal Friendship to your Lordship, independant of the great 
Interest I take in everything which materially concerns the King, 
or the welfare of his Government, The Subject of your letter is 
important, and in every light attended with difficulty. If the four 
would make an application in writing praying leave to enter aboard 
one of his Majesty's Ships bound for the East Indies, that might 
be the best Expedient, but this I suppose they will not do, and may 
look upon being common Sailors as a degradation worse than the 
worst they have to fear. Their Crime abstractedly, and upon the 
face of it, is Piracy, and it is better so to treat it, tho' under all the 
collateral Circumstances I take them to be guilty of High Treason 
in levying War. It seems most clear that they ought not to be set 
at liberty. I am not able to answer the many objections to sending 
them back; there is no Analogy between the Reason and Circum- 
stances which wisely prevailed in the Case of Allen, etc. and the 
present. There cannot be an Admiralty Session, in the ordinary 
Course, till about January next. If you commit them to Newgate 
for Piracy, it is possible to throw, upon this Step, the Colour of a 
Tryal and Execution, and there will not be wanting here and there 
Exhortations to retalliate, and the whole Blame cast upon what 
they will call the first Determination here. But if it be clear that 
they should not be dismissed, or sent back; tho' perhaps these 
Men may never, among so many greater Delinquents, be thought 
the Objects of Execution or even Tryal, the only Deliberation is, 
how to keep them. If they were Prisoners of War, the King might 
keep them where He pleased, consequently aboard a Guardship, 
no Habeas Corpus could deliver them. It is tenderness to avoid 

191 1.] AMERICAN PRISONERS IN ENGLAND, 1 7 75-1 782. IQ 

treating them as Rebells or Pirates, and in sound Policy prudent 
to suspend any ostensive Act either way. If these four are so wick- 
edly advised as to claim to be considered as Subjects, and apply 
for a Habeas Corpus, it is their own doing. They force a regular 
Commitment for their Crime, upon the returns to the Writ, if they 
are not committed before. Opposition should be made to their 
Discharge, on the part of the Attorney General, upon Informations 
of their Crime properly sworn, as a Ground for their Committment. 
All that follows will be their own Act and imputable to themselves. 
During the last Rebellion and after the entire Suppression of it, 
many french Officers were in Gaol as Rebells, being either born in 
the Kings Dominions, or if born abroad the Sons of British Sub- 
jects. They were tryed and condemned but none of them executed; 
they were all sent back. 

I do not collect from your Lordship's letter, that there will be 
any difficulty or Inconvenience to keep the four aboard a Guard- 
ship, and therefore it seems most advisable for your Lordship to 
direct the four to be kept aboard till further order, always being 
prepared, in case of a Habeas Corpus; but this is the Confidential 
Conversation of a private friend. Your most afl and faithful hon, 


Franklin to Hodgson. 1 

Passy, Nov. 19. 1781. 

Sir, — I duly received your several Favours of Sept. 4, & 18, and 
Oct. 30. which sundry Circumstances prevented my answering 
regularly; but I took care to order the Needful into your hands 
by a Credit of £400,, 15,, o„ Sterling, which I suppose you have 

Mr Witherspoon 2 has been with me, and has repaid the 20 Guineas 
you advanc'd to him. I give you a great deal of Trouble; a,nd 
at present I can only thank you, and that never sufficiently. Cur- 
son and Gouverneur 3 have by a Letter to me acknowledged 
your kind Care in finding them out and making them the Offer of 
Money. They had not then Occasion: But still if they should 
have Occasion for it hereafter, I request you would furnish them, 
not for their Subsistance only; but for any other importance Use 
in defending themselves and obtaining their Liberty. I inclose a 
Letter for them. 

1 William Hodgson, merchant, of Coleman Street, London. 

2 Dr. John Witherspoon, Jr. 

3 Samuel Curson, and Isaac Gouverneur, Jr., merchants of St. Eustatia. 


The Affair of exchanging Captain Manley against Major [William] 
Cowley, perplex'd me a little. I spoke to the Minister about it, 
and tho' Cowley was not a Prisoner to the Americans he made no 
Objection on that Account: but I did not press the Affair, because 
I have found that particular Exchanges by Favour, before their 
Turns tho' they oblige particular Persons, are grievous to all the 
rest, who are offended with such Partiality, and think them- 
selves slighted and injur'd by such Preference. I honour Capt. 
Manley and should be glad to serve him, and indeed all the rest. 
Perhaps you can get him sent over among the fifty-three you 
mention. If this is done by your Management it will not 
be so offensive as if by mine. Cowley has his Parole. I will 
get up and return the Engagement entred into by the People 
taken in the Snake Sloop, or send a Discharge from it, as soon 
as they arrive. 

Our late Success in Virginia gives us the Disposition of a great 
many Prisoners; and as it may occasion Men to be more wanted 
there in your Service, I would make a Proposal thro' you to the 
Commissioners, which is, that if they will send me over hither all 
the American Prisoners they possess, I will give an Acknowledge- 
ment of receiving them, and engage that an equal Number of Eng- 
lish shall be delivered for them in America, Soldiers or Sailors or 
both; for the Men you have are mix'd, a part of them only being 
Sailors, our Privateers having many Land-men. Or if it should 
be apprehended that our People deliver'd here may be us'd in 
Europe against you, and that should be thought more inconvenient, 
then I would propose that they should be sent home in your Ships 
and exchanged there by your Admirals or Generals. Some Cir- 
cumstances of Kindness to them at their Departure from England, 
showing a Change of Disposition towards us ? might have a good 
Effect on the Minds of their Countrymen, and tend to promote the 
good Work of Peace. Please to let me know your Sentiments on 
these Propositions; and the Sentiments of the Board if they think 
fit to give them. 

I know there has been, as you observe, a great many Prisoners 
releas'd from Spain, but I have never been able to obtain any Ac- 
count of them. If the Commissioners have such Account, I am 
persuaded they will credit us with them. There are I believe a 
few English Prisoners still in France that were taken by American 
Privateers, but I have no Account of them from the Ports. I sup- 
pose they are sent over from time to time in the Cartels. There 
were seventeen left at l'Orient last Spring brought in by our Frigate 
the Alliance. It is long since I heard any thing of them, I imagine 
they were sent over, and that as we were in debt to the Commis- 


sioners they have given us Credit for them and the rest. I shall 
be glad to know how the Account stands at present. 

I wrote to you sometime since requesting that the Prisoners may 
be allow'd is per Week from the Middle of November to the Middle 
of March. I have reed, a Letter from sundry Americans in Deal 
Prison, viz Robert Smallpeece jun r . Allen Ord, Ephraim Wales, John 
Parker, Caleb Miller, Jesse Breed, Edward Hopper, and Amos 
Easterbrooks : Permit me to recommend these Men also to your 
kind Care and to the same Allowance. Does not the Rev. Mr. 
Denward live at Deal? Perhaps he would be your Administrator. 

I mentioned above, that partial Favour shown to Particulars 
would be better from another than from me. There are some 
whom I would wish to favour if I durst, as their Circumstances or 
Merit seem to claim it: but I cannot well do for one however he 
may merit it, what I should be under a Necessity of refusing to 
many, from want of Cash as well as of Orders. I would therefore 
request of the good and charitable Friends at Portsmouth and 
Plymouth, who take the Pains of the Distribution, that where par- 
ticular Circumstances make it appear to them proper, they would 
sometimes favour certain Persons, in some unknown Name, con- 
cealing the Source from whence it springs. There are Captain 
Manley, Silas Talbot, and Zephaniah Hatch, who have written to 
me I cannot comply with their Demands without drawing a vast 
many others upon my back; and I have not answer'd their Letters: 
But I wish some Addition may now and then be made to their 
Allowance, tho' not as from me. 

I enclose our last Gazette, by which you will see, that Gen. Bur- 
goyne has now a Companion in Misfortune. This World is full of 
Changes, and of Chances. War in particular abounds with them. 
The present I think has done Mischief enough. When will your 
Rulers be of the same Opinion? I am with others empower'd to 
treat of Peace, and for the sake of Humanity I heartily wish it; but 
I draw near the End of Life, and hardly expect that in my time 
there will be any Use made of our Commission. With the greatest 
and most sincere Esteem, I am, Dear Sir, 

B. Franklin. 

I desire You would charge with the Postage of this and all other 
Packets and Letters that pass between us. 

Franklin to Hodgson. 

Passy, April 26, 1782. 

Dear Sir, — Your two Favours of the 9th Instant came to my 
hands but a days since. I had written to you so fully by the pre- 


ceeding Post, sending at the same time the Passports and Powers 
you had demanded, which I hope will be sufficient, that I find little 
left to answer. . 

I am much pleas'd with the memorial you presented respecting 
the Prisoners, and thank you heartily for the Pains you have so 
kindly taken in that affair. 

As to the Expence of the Transports and Provisions, I would just 
remark, that a great Number of our People, made Prisoners in 
America, instead of being exchanged there, were cruelly and un- 
necessarily sent by Admiral Rodney to England in Irons, and pack'd 
together in the unwholesome Holds of the Ships, which kilPd many. 
The Provisions for these taken in these Seas, should I think in 
Justice be compensated by an equal Quantity delivered in America 
to the Prisoners we shall give in Exchange to be returned in Europe. 
The Transport Vessels would perhaps go in their Ballast, as they 
will be wanted probably in America to receive the exchanged Men, 
or to remove their Garrisons; and if your Government will accept 
my first Proposition, and deliver our men to me here, I would save 
it the Expence of hiring Ships for transporting them to America, 
as I could easily find the Means of doing it in our own or French 

Having mentioned these Ideas, I confide the whole Transaction 
to your Judgement and Equity, and shall be satisfied with any 
Agreement you make, for I know you will do what is right and 
obtain for us every Advantage we ought to expect. Lord Shel- 
burne's intended Kindness to the Prisoners, so as to render their 
Voyage comfortable, gives me great Pleasure, not so much on 
Account of an Expence to be saved by that means, but because I 
know it will have an excellent Effect in America, by its Tendency to 
conciliate', which I think a material Point that merits the attention 
of both Sides at present: for a Peace may be made by merely agree- 
ing to cease fighting; and that may be without Reconciliation; in 
which Case the Peace will be less advantageous and of a short Dura- 
tion. Whatever Allowance his Lordship makes for the Purpose 
above-mentioned to the Prisoners in England, I suppose he will ex- 
tend also to those in Ireland. If not, I request you will desire your 
Friends at Kinsale to furnish it, and I will pay the Account upon 
Sight. Be so good as to present my best Respects and Thanks to 
his Lordship, for this Instance of his Humanity and Benevolence 
towards our poor People, and assure him I shall always retain a 
gratefull Sense of it. With great Esteem I have the honor to be, 
Dear Sir, etc. 

B. Franklin. 

1911.] SEWALL LETTERS. 23 

The originals of the following letters, of which copies were 
communicated by Dr. Green, are in the possession of the 
Groton (Mass.) Public Library, and were there given by him 
about fifteen years ago. 

James Sullivan to his Brother. 

19th October, 1774. 

Dear Sir, — Being just delivered from the most melancholly 
scene I take Liberty to give you a small hint of our Trouble. The 
Evening before Last James and Nathaniel Scammon with one 
Hen Cumpston of this place went on Bord Doctor Aldens vessel 
and accused the master (one John Stackpole) and the owner with- 
out any probable foundation of carrying Boards to build Barracks, 
after some words were passed they the master and owner told these 
fellows that they had nothing to do with them but if any men of 
Character were to ask satisfaction they would give it. These fel- 
lows immediately sent post haste and from Gorham (Especially), 
Buxton, Scarboro, Falmo and C. Elizabeth, more than five hun- 
dred men appeard here yesterday under Arms without head, guide, 
Leader or Reason. I heard they were Expected, took Hooper, Tm. 
Jordan and Selectmen of pepperelborough, went to Alden and his 
Captain, got under their hands in writing that they had carryd no 
Bords, went about three miles to meet the Body to stop them if 
possible, but these Rascals that had sent for them sent men on 
horse Back that overhauled and prevented us. They therefore 
arrived in the most Terrible manner Paraded. I immediately sent 
for Alden and Stacpole, and after much ill treatment (which would 
have been spared had it not been for those men who were the foun- 
dation of the Riot) wee have Joyfully got Rid of them. They are 
now Encampd against the King at Dustan [Buxton] and have 
increased to 900 or 1000. What the Event will be I know not, but 
let us have any Government rather than a mobb. They intended 
to have mobbed major Jordan, etc., but by smooth words it is pre- 
vented. You will Excuse my loose writing, as I have had but little 
Rest all Night, uneasy least I should not deliver the Doctor who 
was under Guard. I was in hopes we should have Escaped this 
Calamity. When the Time for Licencing retailers shall come I 
hope Characters will be Considered. I am sir your much wearied 
and Distress d Brother 

Ja. Sullivan. 

Post waiting 

[Indorsed] Biddeford OcF 19^ 1774 
James Sullivan Esqr. 


Caleb Strong to David Sewall. 

Philadelphia, October 29th, 1791. 

Dear Sir, — I arrived at this Place last Saturday after a Journey 
as agreable as could be expected. I left my Friends at Northampton 
well, except my Mother who has been out of health the greater part 
of the Summer, but was somewhat better than she had been when 
I came from Northampton. The Members chosen from Massa- 
chusetts are all in Town. The Time hitherto has been chiefly em- 
ployed in attending to our own personal Accomodation. The City 
was so full of Strangers on Account of the Bank and the Meeting 
of Congress that it was difficult for several Days to get good Lodgings, 
but I hope we shall enter on the publick Business next Week with 
Resolution, and finish it with Despatch. For I assure you the 
shorter the Session the more agreable it will be to me. When I 
was at Boston last September I gave to Mr. Phillips, a young 
Gentleman where I lodged, a Letter to you enclosing a bank Note 
of 30 Dollars, being the money I collected of a man near Northamp- 
ton, or rather advanced for him on Account of a bastard Child 
born in your Neighbourhood. (I have forgot the Mothers Name.) 
I desired Mr. Phillips to hand the Letter to Mr. Theodore Lyman 
having neglected myself through forgetfulness to give it to him. 
If you have rec'd the Letter and the enclosed Bill be kind enough to 
advise me of it. Pray give my Respects to Mr. and the two Mrs. 
Lymans, and my Love to their Children, and be kind enough to 
present my Compliments to Mrs. Sewall. I hope you will find 
some leisure Time in which you and Mrs. Sewall can make us a 
Visit at Northampton. I am Sir with great Respect and Regard 
your most obedt and hble Servt 

Caleb Strong. 

[In Sewall's handwriting] 

Wrote in answer Nov* 20^ 1791 
[Addressed] The Honble David Sewall Esq. York, From C. Strong. To be left 
at Portsmouth New Hampshire. 

John Adams to David Sewall. 

Quincy, December 2 2d, 1802. ! 

My dear Friend, — When I resolved if I could to give peace to 
my Country, in opposition to the selfish and ambitious views of 
a few of the Federalists who never knew the Character and Temper 
of the American People, nor their true Interests, a Peter Porcupine 
and a John Ward Fenno under the direction of M c Donald the 

191 1.] SEWALL LETTERS. 25 

British Commissioner and William Smith the Agent for British 
Creditors, began to squirt their Ink in my face. 1 A few little and a 
few great Federalists were left for their sins to reinforce this mis- 
erable group. The Scurrillity of the whole Combination encouraged 
and emboldened the Jacobins to redouble their efforts, which have 
gone on encreasing till the dirty business has been consummated 
by Thomas Paine. 2 The Spissitude of the black liquor, which is 
spread in such quantities by this Writer prevents it daubing, be- 
cause it cannot stick; and the whole has no more impression upon 
me than so much common water. 

I receive your Letter of December 14th with all the Sensibility 
of Friendship with which it was written. I recollect our juvenile 
studies and amusements with great pleasure, and have always 
lamented that the Circumstances of our affairs have kept us so far 
asunder. I never recollect a Hemmenway, a Sewall or a Locke 
without the most lively emotions of affection and the highest sense 
of Esteem, and fifty years more would make no alteration in this 
respect as I verily believe in your habitual Friend, 

John Adams. 

The Hon. David Sewall 

Judge of the District of Maine York 

John Quincy Adams to David Sewall. 

Washington City, 9 Deer. 1803. 

Sir, — A bill to repeal the bankrupt Law has pass'd the House 
of Representatives, and in the course of a very few days will prob- 
ably pass the Senate. The repeal will take effect from the passage 
of the bill. I have twice attempted without success to postpone 
the operation of the repeal untill the District Judges throughout 
the Union may have notice not to issue any more Commissions of 

1 Writings of John Adams, rx. 248. 

2 In the Jefferson mss., in the Library of Congress, is a letter from Paine to 
Jefferson, dated October 1, 1800. Conway prints the letter in his Life of Thomas 
Paine, 11. 284, but some sentences which were carefully struck out by Jefferson 
in the ms. were not deciphered or printed. They embody so characteristic an 
attack, and so entirely justify Adams' opinion of Paine, that they are now for 
the first time reproduced: " that you might keep our eyes on brother Adams, 
whose talent was to blunder and offend. His fractious, untractable disposition 
has justified this opinion of him. Like his Secretary Timothy [Pickering] he 
mistakes arrogance for greatness, and sullenness for wisdom. Were you in 
Europe, you would feel afflicted, as I do, for the degradation of the American 
character. The silent hypocrisy of Washington, (for I venture my opinion) 
gave the first stab to the fame of America, and the entire nothingness of Adams 
has deepened the wound." [W. C. F.] 



I have therefore thought it my duty to give you notice of this 
circumstance, as it is possible, applications for Commissions of 
Bankruptcy may be made to you after the repeal, but before you 
can be properly informed of it. This is the motive which induces 
me to take the liberty of writing you this letter. I am with great 
respect, Sir, your very humble and obedt. Servt. 

John Quincy Adams. 

Remarks were made during the meeting by the President, 
and Messrs. W. R. Livermore, Hart, Thayer, Green, 
Stanwood, Norcross, and Bigelow. 



THE stated meeting was held on Thursday, the 9th instant, 
at three o'clock, p. m. ; the President in the chair. 

The record of the last meeting was read and approved; and 
the Librarian reported the list of donors since the last meeting. 

The Cabinet-Keeper reported the gift, by Mr. Davis, of a 
medal, of which only a very small number were struck, commemo- 
rative of his father, Governor John Davis. The original profile, 
from which this representation is copied, is in marble, and hangs 
in the gallery of the Senate, at the State House. Another example 
in the Appleton Collection bears the names of Knox and Lang, 
and the profile that of C. Lang. 1 

The Corresponding Secretary reported the receipt of a letter 
from George Foot Moore, accepting his election as a Resident 

The Editor read part of a letter from John Bigelow to the 
President, in which he stated: 

I send you a New England Primer which was printed when I 
was but nine years old. It is different in many respects from the 
Westminster Catechism with which I was laboring about that year. 
It appeared about the time when Massachusetts was beginning to 
shed its Calvinism, which I suppose in part accounts for its being 
fortified by the Episcopal and the Assembly of Divines's Catechisms. 
Why such a Primer for New England should have been printed in 
Broadway, New York, and called the New England Primer, is a 
question for the " quidnuncs " of your Historical Society. It reached 
me in — as you may suppose — a pretty ragged cover, which I have 
replaced by a more modern costume. I send this Catechism to you, 
on the chance that you may not have a copy in your Society's li- 
brary. If you have not, it will be worth to you its board and lodg- 
ing. If you have already a copy, you may dispose of it as an 
impostor. 2 

1 See 2 American Antiquarian Society Proceedings, ix. 334, 335. 

2 The title reads: The | New-England | Primer, | improved, | for the 
more easy Attaining the true | Reading of English. | Adorned with Cuts. | 
To which is added, | the Episcopal | and | the Assembly of Divines' | Gate- 




Gamaliel Bradford, Jr., of Wellesley, was elected a Resident 
Member of the Society. 

Mr. Bowditch, on behalf of Miss Mary P. Nichols, of Boston, 
presented to the Society some old manuscripts, and read a portion 
of one, "Charles Chatterbox's Will," a name given to William 
Biglow (17 73-1844), head master of the Boston Latin School 
from 1805 to 1814. 1 

Charles Chatterbox's Will. 

A Will, being the last words of Charles Chatterbox esq. late 
worthy and much lamented member of the Laughing Club of Har- 
vard University, who departed college life, June 21st, 1794. in the 
21st year AET. 2 

I Charley Chatterbox sound of mind 
To making fun am much inclined; 
So having cause to apprehend 
My College life is near its end, 
All future quarrels to prevent, 
I seal this will and testament. 

My soul and body while together. 
I send the storms of life to weather; 
To steer as safely as they can, 
To honor God, and profit man. 

Imprimis, then my bed and bedding, 

My only chattels worth the sledding, 

Consisting of a maple stead, 

A counterpane and coverled, 

Two cases with the pillows in, 

A blanket, cord, a winch and pin, 

Two sheets, a featherbed, and haytic, 

I order sledded up to Natick; 

And that with care the sledder save 

For those kind parents first who gave 


Item. The laughing club so blest, 
Who think this life, what 'tis, a jest 
Collect its flowers from every spray, 
And laugh its goading thorns away; 

chisms. I New- York: | Printed and Published by George Long. | No. 161 
Broadway. | 1826. Pp. 71. 

1 Catalogue of the Boston Public Latin School, 8 n. and p. 45 of the Historical 
Sketch by Henry F. Jenks. 

2 Found among the effects of Benjamin W. Nichols. The MS. bears a note in 
the writing of Benjamin R. Nichols, " Charles Chatterbox, alias William Bigelow." 

From whom tomorrow I dissever, 
Take one sweet grin, and leave forever; 
My chest and all that in it is, 
I give and I bequeath them, viz; 
Westminster grammar old and poor, 
Another one compiled by Moor, 
A bunch of pamphlets pro and con, 
The doctrine of sal-va-ti-on, 
The college laws, I 'm free from mind- 
A Hebrew psalter, stript from binding, 
A Hebrew bible, too, lies nigh it, 
Unsold, because no one would buy it. 

My manuscript, in prose and verse, 
They take for better and for worse; 
Their minds enlighten with the best, 
And pipes and candles with the rest, 
Provided that from them they cull 
My college exercises dull, 
On threadbare theme with mind un- 
Strained out thro' fear of fine one 

To teachers paid to avert an evil, 
Like Indian worship to the devil. 
The abovenamed manuscript I say, 
To club aforesaid I convey, 

I9i iJ 



Provided that said themes so given, 
Full proofs that genius wont be driven, 
To our physicians be presented 
As the best opiates yet invented. 

Item. The Government of college 
Those liberal hellions of knowledge, 
Who e'en in these degenerate days, 
Deserve the world's unceasing praise; 
Who, friends of science and of men, 
Stand forth Gomorrah's righteous ten, 
On them I nought, but thanks bestow, 
For like my cash my credit's low; 
So I can give nor clothes nor wines 
But bid them welcome to my fines. 

Item. My study 5 desk of pine, 
That work-bench sacred to the nine, 
Which oft has groaned beneath my 

I give, to pay my debts, to PETER. 

Item. Two penknives with white 

A bunch of quills, and pound of candles 
A lexicon compiled by Cole, 
A pewter spoon, and earthen bowl, 
A hammer, and two homespun towels, 
For which I yearn with tender bowels; 
Since I no longer can control them, 
I leave to those shy lads who stole them, 

Item. A gown much greased in com- 
A hat between a man's and woman's, 

A tattered coat of college blue, 
A fustian waistcoat torn in two, 
With all my rust through college 

I give to classmate — * who 's mar- 

Item. C — P — s 2 has my knife 

During his natural college life. 

That knife which ugliness inherits, 

And due to his superior merits. 

And when from Harvard he shall 

I order him to leave it here, 

That 't may from class to class de- 

Till time and ugliness shall end. 

The said C — P — s, humor's son, 
Who long shall stay when I am gone, 
The muses' most successful suitor, 
I constitute my executor; 
And for his trouble to requite him, 
Member of laughing club I write him. 
Myself on life's broad sea I throw, 
Sail with its joy or stem its wo, 
No other friend to take my part, 
Than careless head and honest heart. 
My purse is drained; my debts are paid; 
My glass is run; my will is made, 
To beauteous C A M. I bid adieu, 
And with the world begin anew. 

June 20, 1794. 

Isaac Hull to Nathaniel Silsbee. 3 

Governor Long read a copy of a letter from Commodore Isaac 
Hull, as follows: 

Navy Yard, Charlestown, Nov. 29, 1820. 

My dear Sir, — I had great hopes that you would have given 
me a call before you left for Washington, that I might have an op- 
portunity to show you the Establishment, and I wished very much 
to have had a conversation with you on the subject of Commodore 
Bainbridge's letter to you on Rank and Command. And since you 
left circumstances have occurred on that subject that, in my opinion, 
will go far to ruin the Navy, if the subject is not put to rest by the 

1 Jesse Olds. 2 Charles Prentiss, of the next class, that of 1795. 

3 Member of Congress. 


Government. If we cannot get a permanent Grade, the nominal 
one of Commodore must be done away; if not there will be as many 
affairs of honor as they are called as there are nominal Flags; for 
it cannot be supposed that the President intended, in giving the 
command of one or more ships to some of the youngest Captains 
with the nominal rank of Commodore, that he intended to give them 
permanent rank and honor. If so there is an end to the Service, 
and I hope if the question is brought forward an inquiry will be 
made, whether the President did intend permanent honors, etc., 
when giving those Commands. Believe me, it is a subject that 
ought to attract the attention of both Houses. The Navy Depart- 
ment must have considered that there were permanent honors 
attached to the rank of Commodore, or why should they, after that 
command ceased, address letters to " Captain " Isaac Hull, to " Com- 
modore " Isaac Chauncey, "Commodore John Shaw," Commodore 
Charles Morris, Commodore Sinclair, Commodore Macdonough, 
Commodore Patterson; and forty other Commodores that were 
Midshipmen when I was a post Captain? I am now informed 
that those Commodores have commenced a correspondence with 
each other to endeavor to make interest with their friends to 
get their rank confirmed. You must readily conceive what my 
feelings are to see their letters come addressed to them as Com- 
modores, and by the same mail mine are directed to "Captain 
Hull." . 

In short, my dear sir, it will be impossible to prevent duelling 
and all sorts of quarrels unless Rank and Command is better defined, 
understood, and practised, than it now is. Will you write me if 
anything is likely to take place in consequence of this effort that 
is to be made, that in your opinion is likely to injure my reputation 
or Rank? With very great regard and respect, I am, sir, your friend 
and obdt. servant, 

Isaac Hull. 

Payments to Provincial Officials. 

By way of supplement to Professor Channing's remarks on 
London records of payments to officers o* the Province of Massa- 
chusetts Bay, 1 Mr. Bigelow presented certain memoranda of 
payments to the same officers out of the Province Treasury, and 
made some comments upon the subject. He mentioned the fact 
also that payments in considerable sums were regularly made 
out of the Province Treasury to the judges of the Superior 

1 See p. 7, supra. 




Court, and referred to the well-known controversy between the 
Crown and the Province in regard to the question of the source 
of compensation for the Governor. The memoranda are as 
follows : 

Amts. paid. Paid to Spencer Phips, Lieutenant Governor. 











































Entertaining Committees 








Capt. of Castle William 























Paid to Andrew Oliver, Secretary. 








Extraordinary services 






Extraordinary services 



Making entries for Govts poor & dis- 

tress'd servants 







Extraordinary services 







Extraordinary services 



Entries for Govts poor & distress'd 




Extraordinary services 







Extraordinary services 



Extra extraordinary services 






1 762-^3 

Extraordinary services 



Extraordinary Ser. for soldiers fees 








Extraordinary services - 



Extraordinary services 







Extraordinary services 



Extraordinary services 



1,564 10 o 

1 Province Laws. 

3 2 
























Paid to Andrew Oliver, Secretary. 






Extraordinary services 


Assistants pay- 


Extraordinary services 




Assistants pay 




Extraordinary services 


Assistants pay 




Extraordinary services 


Assistants pay 




Extraordinary services 


Assistants pay 


Ordinary and extraordinary 


Pay for Assistants 










Paid to Thomas Hutchinson, Governor. 

4 Care of French Inhabitants 

o Serving the public 

o Extra service (Lieut. Gov.) 

o Lieut. Gov. sundry services 
o " " services 

o Gov. bounds, Mass. & N. Y. 

o Chief Justice 

o Chief Justice 

o Chief Justice 

o Chief Justice 





1770- y 1 




























422 13 4 

The controversy between the Crown and the Province in regard 
to the right of payment of the Governor's compensation came 
up for action in the Legislature in April, 1771. The first stages 
of the controversy may be presented here. They are as follows : 

April 12, 1 77 1. An Engross'd Bill for granting the Sum of Five 
Hundred and six Pounds to his Excellency Thomas Hutchinson, 
Esq; in Consideration of his Services while Lieutenant Governor. — 
Read and pass'd to be enacted. House Journal, xvn. 210. 

April 12, 1 77 1. An Engross'd Bill for granting the Sum of Thir- 
teen Hundred Pounds for the Support of his Majesty's Governor. — 
Read and pass'd to be enacted. House Journal, xvn. 210. 


April 25, 1771. 
May it please your Excellency. 

The House of Representatives after Enquiry of the Secretary 
cannot be made certain whether you have yet given your Assent 
to two Bills which were laid before your Excellency early in this 
Session: The one for granting the Sum of Five Hundred and six 
Pounds for your Services when Lieutenant Governor and Com- 
mander in Chief; and the other for granting the usual Sum of Thir- 
teen Hundred Pounds, to enable your Excellency, as Governor, to 
carry on the Affairs of this Province. 

And, as your Excellency was not pleas'd to give your Assent to 
another Bill pass'd in the last Session of this Assembly, for granting 
the Sum of Three Hundred and twenty-five Pounds for your Ser- 
vices, when in the Chair, as Lieutenant Governor, the House are 
apprehensive that you are under some Restraint; and they cannot 
account for it upon any other Principle, but your having Provision 
for your Support in some new and unprecedented Manner. If 
the Apprehensions of the House are not groundless, they are sol- 
licitous to be made certain of it, before an End is put to the present 
Session; and think it their Duty to pray your Excellency to inform 
them, whether any Provision is made for your Support, as Governor 
of this Province, independent of his Majesty's Commons in it. 
House Journal, xvii. 246. 

A message from his Excellency the Governor. 

I could not, consistent with my Duty to the King, give my Assent 
to the Bill passed the last session for granting Three Hundred 
and twenty-five Pounds for my Support. Before the Close of the 
present Session I shall assent to or reject the Bills which shall have 
passed the two Houses as it shall appear to me the same Duty re- 
quires of me. 

You are sollicitous to be informed whether any Provision is made 
for my Support as Governor of the Province independent of his 
Majesty's Commons in it. By the Expression His Majesty's Com- 
mons I suppose you would be understood to intend the House of 
Representatives. I must observe to you that the King, Lords and 
Commons, our Supreme Legislature, have determined it to be 
expedient to enable his Majesty to make a certain and adequate 
Provision for the Support of the Civil Government in the Colonies 
as His Majesty shall judge necessary. 

I will not enter into a Dispute with you upon the Propriety of 
this Provision. It may not however be amiss to acquaint you that 
I have not received the full Instructions and other Appendages 



to His Majesty's Commission which I have Reason to expect. When 
I shall receive them I will communicate such Part of them to 
the House of Representatives as I shall think for his Majesty's 

In the mean Time I am the only sufferer by declining or delaying 
my Assent to any Bills for my Support, and I think your Constitu- 
ents will not blame me for being willing to avoid burdening them 
with this Support by the Increase of the Tax upon their Polls and t 
Estates whilst there is any Probability that it may have been pro- 
vided for in another Way. 

T. Hutchinson. 

Cambridge 25 April, 1771. House Journal, xvh. 252. 

Mr. Bigelow also presented some memoranda of traces of 
primogeniture in Massachusetts, extending nearly down to the 
Revolution; remarking upon the long survival here, under new 
conditions, of a monarchic institution. "It was," said Mr. Bige- 
low, "as if the sun turned upon its axis once in two centuries, 
and the afterglow of sunset lasted a hundred and fifty years.". 
The following, not presented as exhaustive, are the memoranda: 

An order of the Province Legislature in 1735, empowering Samuel 
Hunt and others to survey a town for the soldiers in Falls fight, 
above Deerfield (1676). In case of the death of any entitled, pref- 
erence was always to be given "to the eldest of the sons of each 
officer or souldier deced. that shall put in their Claims; and in Case 
no son does put in his Claim within twelve Months, then to give 
preference to the Eldest Male Descended from any such officer or 
Soldier deced. that shall put in their Claims as aforesaid, and all 
others shall be excluded." Province Laws, xn. 55, chap. in. 

In the same year, an order empowering the heirs of Captain Wis- 
wall and others engaged in the fight at Lamprey river (1690), near 
Dover, New Hampshire, to survey lands for themselves. And in 
case of the death of any entitled, "Preference to be given to the 
Eldest son Surviving . . . And in Case there be no son living then 
to the Eldest Male descended from such officer and soldier now 
living . . . And in Case there be no male heir then to the Eldest 
female Surviving." lb. 75, chap. 152. 

In the same year, an order for granting a town on the Merri- 
mack river in favor of soldiers under Captain Tyng, in the Indian 
war of 1703, who had made a difficult march in the winter, on snow- 
shoes and had killed six Indians; this being stated to be the first 
attempt made against the enemy on snowshoes. Instead of any 


now deceased the grant ran to their "male descendants wherein the 
preference shall be Given to the Eldest son." Ib. 105, chap. 229. 

In the year 1768 an order for the survey of a township in favor 
of male descendants of soldiers in the expedition against Canada, 
1690. The grant names the particular descendant (as in some other 
cases), never running to "heirs;" the eldest son or grandson prob- 
ably being meant, if there were such survivor. Ib. xvin. 344, chap. 
26. See also ib. 386, chap. 25 (1770), carrying this into effect. 

There were, on the other hand, many similar grants to officers and 
soldiers from 1735 to 1740, running only to their "heirs and assigns" 
or to their "heirs and legal representatives," or to their "heirs and 
descendants." What may have been the reason for the special 
limitation in other cases to the eldest son does not appear. 

In the year 1767, a decree of the Probate Court for Worcester 
County came before the Legislature, by which decree land had been 
given to the eldest son of the decedent, upon his undertaking to pay 
the other children the value of their several interests. The son 
having found himself unable to carry out the undertaking, the case 
was now brought before the Legislature, where the difficulty was 
adjusted. No question of the validity of the decree appears to have 
arisen. Ib. 165, chap. 105. 

The President then read the following paper: 

The Trent Affair. 

As, doubtless, all of us have had frequent occasion to observe, 
there are few occurrences which in their relative connection 
with other occurrences or with things at large do not assume 
with the lapse of time aspects strangely different. The passage 
of fifty years is a great dissolvent and clarifier. The interna- 
tional incident, still memorable, known as the affair of the 
Trent and the seizure by Captain Charles Wilkes, then com- 
manding the San Jacinto, of Messrs. Mason and Slidell, the two 
Confederate envoys, occurred on the 8th of November, and 
the fiftieth recurrence of that date accordingly came about 

One living in those times who had then attained even a degree 
of maturity, that is, any man or woman now over sixty-five 
years of age, cannot but retain, if American, a distinct recol- 
lection of the incident, and a general memory at least of the 
excitement caused by it, and the intense interest with which 
every stage of its development was awaited. For such, however, 



it is necessary also to bear in mind that the present great major- 
ity, those of the younger generations, do not have this vivid 
personal recollection of the events of that memorable period, 
and there are many whose ideas concerning the affair of the 
Trent are vague and, to say the least, unsettled. For instance, 
as an illustration in point let me relate an incident told me by 
my friend Mr. Moorfield Storey. Among the guests on one 
occasion at Mr. Storey's house was an intelligent young fellow, 
either a recent Harvard graduate or, possibly, in one of the older 
classes. He was also in a general way not ill informed, as men 
of that age go. Incidentally a reference was made to the as- 
sault of Preston Brooks on Charles Sumner in the United States 
Senate chamber, — very fresh and vivid in Mr. Storey's 
recollections. To his utter surprise this young man listened 
with interest, and then asked for further details, observing 
that he knew nothing about it, never having heard of the 
occurrence before! To us who lived in those times, such a 
lack of information upon really momentous historical events 
seems incomprehensible, almost astounding. Yet from per- 
sonal experience I have reason to believe the case was in no 
wise exceptional. 

With us of the Civil War generation the events of that period 
are, on the contrary, in the language of Milton, "writ large." 
They stand forth in memory, belittling where they do not 
altogether obscure the historical episodes of very considerable 
importance which have since occupied attention. It is, there- 
fore, always peculiarly interesting to us — now lingerers from 
that bygone generation — to look back on those events through 
the perspective of fifty years, and, recalling our feelings at the 
time, note the different aspects those events now wear. Few are 
more well worth consideration from this point of view than the 
episode I have referred to, — the taking of the Confederate 
envoys, Messrs. Mason and Slidell, from the steamer Trent 
on November 8, 1861. 

In pursuance of my present purpose, I do not propose to 
enter into any detailed narrative of what then occurred. So 
far as the facts are concerned, the incident has taken its place, 
and presumably its proper place, in recorded history. The 
field too has been thoroughly gleaned; and, though nearly 
twenty years have passed since the publication of Mr. Thomas 

1 91 1 J THE TRENT AFFAIR. 37 

L. Harris's very thorough monograph entitled The Trent 
Affair, little light of value has in the intervening time been 
cast on the subject. The conclusions therein reached have 
been revised in no essential respect. In his Life of William H, 
Seward, Mr. Frederic Bancroft devotes to this incident his 
thirty-third chapter, and in that gives a thoroughly un- 
prejudiced and critical account of what occurred. Reading 
it afresh, Mr. Bancroft's narrative strikes me as judicial; 
and, moreover, so far as Seward is concerned, while he in it 
nothing extenuates, he sets down naught in malice. 

Before entering in the casual way now proposed on my 
historical narrative of the affair, I must first submit certain 
broad conclusions in regard to it, and the conditions under 
which it occurred. 

Speaking generally, I think I do not remember in the whole 
course of the half-century's retrospect — equal to the period 
which elapsed between the surrender at Yorktown and the 
presidency of Andrew Jackson — any occurrence in which the 
American people were so completely swept off their feet, for 
the moment losing possession of their senses, as during the 
weeks which immediately followed the seizure of Mason and 
Slidell. Everything combined to this result. In the first place, 
when the incident occurred the community was in a wholly over- 
wrought nervous condition. On the 8th of November, 1 86 1 , seven 
months had elapsed since the firing on Fort Sumter, and nearly 
four months since the mortifying Bull Run experience. It was 
exactly a year from the election to the presidency of Abraham 
Lincoln. That election, it will be remembered, had been 
immediately followed by the initial movement of South Caro- 
lina in the direction of secession. Then followed the trying 
winter of i860 and 1861, during which State after State seceded, 
the war cloud in the South ever gathering, and assuming day 
by day a more threatening aspect. The five months which 
elapsed between the election of i860 and the firing on Fort 
Sumter were probably the most trying period, psychologically, 
this country has ever passed through. The inevitable was 
constantly assuming a more portentous shape. At last in 
April war broke out. Thus in November, 1861, the country 
had been on tenter-hooks, so to speak, for twelve entire months, 
and during the last six of those months one mortification and 


failure had followed sharp on another. The community, in a 
state of the highest possible tension, was constantly hoping 
for a successful coup somewhere and by someone executed in 
its behalf. It longed for a man who would do, taking the 
responsibility of the doing. While it was in this state of 
mind, the telegraph one day announced that the United States 
sloop of war San Jacinto, under the command of Captain Wilkes, 
had arrived at Fortress Monroe, having on board the two Con- 
federate envoys, Mason and Slidell, taken on the high seas 
from the British mail steamer Trent. At last the hour seemed 
come, and with it a man. By one now seeking an explanation 
of what then occurred, all this must be borne in mind. 

Thus worked up to the highest pitch of excitement, the 
feeling of the country had also been slowly fermenting to one 
of acute hostility towards Great Britain; and this for two rea- 
sons. In the first place, it had seemed as if, in view of its anti- 
slavery preachings during the last thirty years, and its some- 
what Pharisaic, better-than-thou attitude towards America 
as respects the negro and his condition, Great Britain had failed 
to evince that sympathy towards us which was expected be- 
cause of the Slaveholders' rebellion, and had, to say the least, 
done nothing to forward the cause of the Union in a crisis 
brought on by the aggressive action of the South. On the con- 
trary, the attitude of England in general had been sneering as 
well as adversely critical; and the tone of the London Times , 
in particular, — for the Times, still known as "The Thunderer," 
was recognized as the first and most influential newspaper in 
the world, — had been distinctly unsympathetic, not to say 
antagonistic and otherwise acutely irritating. William H. 
Russell, the famous Crimean War correspondent, was also 
at that time in this country, and his letters regularly appearing 
in the Times as "from our special correspondent" were repub- 
lished and read in America to an extent which can hardly 
now be understood. Anxiously waited for, and printed in 
extenso in all the leading journals, extracts from them were 
to be found in every paper in the land. Russell had been to 
a certain extent present at Bull Run, and a witness of our dis- 
grace. While his account of what he saw on that occasion 
was photographic and strictly correct, we none the less had 
become morbidly conscious that there was "a chiel amang [us] 


taking notes," and the " notes" he took when seen in "prent" 
caused a degree of irritation at this day difficult to describe 
or overstate. Thus morbidly excited and intensely sensitive, 
the country was in a thoroughly unreasoning and altogether 
unreasonable condition, very necessary now to emphasize; for 
it] needed only the occurrence of some accident to lead to a 
pronounced explosion of what can only be described as Anglo- 
phobia. Discouraged, we had in fact only begun to settle 
down to the conviction that a long and uncertain struggle was 
before us. With all conditions, therefore, explosive, so to 
speak, in character, the incident of the Trent came like a bolt 
from a clouded and lowering sky; but it was a shell exploding 
in a powder magazine rather than a spark falling in a mass of 
combustible matter. 

The course of events, briefly stated, was as follows : — Imme- 
diately after the firing upon Fort Sumter, Jefferson Davis, 
President of the then newly organized Confederate States, had 
sent out to Europe agents to forward the interests of the pro- 
posed nationality. These agents had there spent some seven 
months, accomplishing little. Disappointed at their failure, 
Davis determined upon a second and more formal missioD. The 
new representatives were designated as " Special Commissioners 
of the Confederate States of America, near the Government" 
whether of Great Britain or of France, as the case might be. 
James Murray Mason of Virginia and John Slidell of Louisiana 
were selected, the first named for London, the second for Paris. 
Both, it will be remembered, had recently been Senators of the 
United States, Slidell having withdrawn from the Senate Febru- 
ary 4, 1 86 1, immediately after the passage of the Ordinance of 
Secession by the State of Louisiana; while Mason, having ab- 
sented himself about March 20, during the session of the 
Senate for executive business, did not again take his seat. 
Virginia seceded April 17, and Mason, together with several 
other Southern Senators, was in his absence expelled by formal 
vote (July n) at the special session of the Thirty-Seventh 
Congress, which met under the call of President Lincoln, 
July 4, 1 86 1. Probably no two men in the entire South were 
more thoroughly obnoxious to those of the Union side than 
Mason and Slidell. The first was, in many and by no means 
the best ways, a typical Virginian. Very provincial and in- 


tensely arroga'nt, his dislike of New England, and especially of 
Massachusetts, was pronounced, and exceeded only by his 
contempt. 1 It was said of him at the time that when trouble 
was brewing and he was invited to make a speech in Boston, 
he had replied that he would not again visit Massachusetts 
until he went there as an ambassador. Slidell, on the other 
hand, was considered one of the most astute and dangerous 
of all Confederate public characters. An intriguer by nature, 
unscrupulous in his political methods, he was credited with 
having fraudulently defeated, by secret manipulations, the 
Clay ticket in Louisiana in the 1844 presidential election, 
and was generally looked upon as the most dangerous person to 
the Union the Confederacy could select for diplomatic work 
in Europe. 2 The first object of the envoys was to secure the 
recognition of the Confederacy. The ports of the Confederate 
States were then blockaded; but the blockade had not yet 
become really effective. The new envoys selected Charleston 
as their port of embarkation, and October 12 as its date. 
The night of the 12 th was dark and rainy, but with little 

1 The course of subsequent events in no way mollified these antipathies. 
Writing from London to a daughter in Virginia thirteen months (April 5, 1866) 
after the delivery of Lincoln's second inaugural, he thus expressed himself: — 
"In my varied intercourse with the world, I have met with some whom I held in 
disesteem, with others in contempt, as unworthy, and some few who were essen- 
tially bad; but, in looking back, I do not recognize that my feelings toward any 
such amounted to acrimony, or insuperable hate. Nov/ it is otherwise. I confess, 
that toward every man or thing North, there has arisen within me a feeling of 
detestation that I cannot express or qualify, if I would. In the war they waged 
against us, they were demons — in victory, they proved themselves fiends. There 
are, of course, individual exceptions I doubt not, but I have yet to learn of one 
prominent man there who has, since the rupture, expressed a sentiment, or evinced 
a feeling, that would not be held a disgrace to manhood elsewhere." The Public 
Life and Diplomatic Correspondence of James M, Mason, 581. 

2 W. H. Russell thus wrote of Mr. Slidell in a letter to the Times, which ap- 
peared in its issue of December 10, 1861 : — "Mr. Slidell, whom I had the pleasure 
of meeting in New Orleans, is a man of more tact and he is not inferior to his 
colleague Mr. Mason in other respects. He far excels him. in subtlety and depth, 
and is one of the most consummate masters of political manoeuvre in the States. 
He is what is here called a * wire-puller ' — a man who unseen moves the puppets 
on the public stage as he lists — a man of iron will and strong passions, who 
loves the excitement of combinations, . . . and who in his dungeon [at Fort 
Warren], or whatever else it may be, would conspire with the mice against the cat 
sooner than not conspire at all. . . . Originally a northern man, he has thrown 
himself into the southern cause and staked his great fortune on the issue without 
hesitation, and with all the force of his intellect and character. And even he be- 
lieved that England must break the blockade for cotton." 

191 1.] THE TRENT AFFAIR. 4 1 

or no wind, conditions altogether favorable for their purpose. 
They left Charleston on the little Confederate steamer Theo- 
dora, evaded the blockading squadron, and reached New- 
Providence, Nassau, two days later, the 14th. It had been 
the intention of the envoys to take passage for Europe at 
Nassau on an English steamer; but, failing to find one which 
did not stop at New York, the Theodora continued her voyage 
to Cardenas in Cuba, whence the envoys and those accom- 
panying them proceeded overland to Havana. Arriving at 
Havana about the 2 2d of October, Messrs. Mason and Slidell 
remained there until the 7th of November. They then em- 
barked on the British steamer Trent, the captain of the Trent 
having full knowledge of their diplomatic capacity as envoys 
of an insurgent community, and giving consent to their embarka- 
tion. The Trent was a British mail packet, making regular 
trips between Vera Cruz, in the Republic of Mexico, and the 
Danish Island of St. Thomas. She was in no respect a blockade 
runner; was not engaged in commerce with any American port; 
and was then on a regular voyage from a port in Mexico, by 
way of Havana, to her advertised destination, St. Thomas, 
all neutral ports. At St. Thomas direct connection could be 
made with a line of British steamers running to Southampton. 
The envoys, therefore, when they left Havana, were on a neutral 
mail steamer, sailing under the British flag, on a schedule voyage 
between neutral points. 

At just that time the United States war steamer, San Jacinto, 
a first-class screw sloop mounting fifteen guns, was returning 
from a cruise on the western coast of Africa, where for twenty 
months she had been part of the African squadron engaged in 
suppressing the slave trade. She was commanded by Captain 
Wilkes, who had recently joined her. Returning by way of the 
Cape Verde Islands, Captain Wilkes there learned from the 
newspapers about the last of September of the course of public 
events in the United States, and rumors reached him of 
Confederate privateers, as they were then called, destroying 
American vessels in West India waters. He determined to 
make an effort at the capture of some of these " privateers." 
On October ioth the San Jacinto reached the port of St. 
Tliomas, and subsequently touched at Cienfuegos on the south 
coast of Cuba. There Captain Wilkes learned, also from 



the newspapers, that the Confederate envoys were at that 
very time at Havana, and about to take passage for Southamp- 
ton. Reaching Havana on the 28th of October, the commander 
of the San Jacinto further learned that the commissioners were 
to embark on the steamer Trent, scheduled to leave Havana 
on the 7th of November. Captain Wilkes then conceived the 
design of intercepting the Trent, exercising the right of search, 
and making prisoners of the envoys. No question as to his 
right to stop, board, and search the Trent seems to have entered 
the mind of Captain Wilkes. He did, however, take into his 
confidence his executive officer, Lieutenant Fairfax, disclosing 
to him his project. Lieutenant Fairfax entered, it is said, a 
vigorous protest against the proposed action, and strongly 
urged on Captain Wilkes the necessity of proceeding with great 
caution unless he wished to provoke international difficulties, 
and not impossibly a war with Great Britain. He then suggested 
that his commanding officer consult an American Judge at 
Key West, an authority on maritime law; which, however, 
Captain Wilkes declined to do. Leaving Key West on the 
morning of November 5th, Ca,ptain Wilkes directed the course 
of the San Jacinto to what is known as the Bahama Channel, 
through which the Trent would necessarily pass on its way to 
St. Thomas, and there stationed himself. About noon on the 
8th of November, the Trent hove in sight, and when she had 
approached sufficiently near the San Jacinto, a round shot 
was fired athwart her course; the United States flag was run up 
at the mast head at the same time. The approaching vessel 
showed the English colors, but did not check her speed or 
indicate a disposition to heave to. Accordingly, a few instants 
later, a shell from the San Jacinto was exploded across her bows. 
This had the desired effect. The Trent immediately stopped, 
and a boat from the San Jacinto proceeded to board her. It 
is unnecessary to go into the details of what then occurred. For 
present purposes it is sufficient to say that the two envoys, 
together with their secretaries, were identified and forcibly 
removed, being taken on board the San Jacinto; which, with- 
out interfering with the mails or otherwise subjecting the 
Trent to search, then laid its course for Fortress Monroe. 
Arriving there on the 15th, news of the capture was imme- 
diately flashed over the country. The Trent, on the other hand, 

191 1. 1 THE TRENT APE AIR. 43 

proceeded to St. Thomas, where her passengers were trans- 
ferred to another steamer, and completed the voyage to South- 
ampton. They arrived and the report of the transaction was 
made public in Great Britain November 27th, twelve days 
after the arrival of the San Jacinto at Fortress Monroe, and the 
publication of the news of the arrest in the United States. 

Such were the essential facts in the case, and, while a storm 
of enthusiastic approval was sweeping over the northern part 
of the United States in the twelve days between November 
15th and November 27th, a storm of indignation of quite equal 
intensity swept over Great Britain between November 27th 
and the close of the year. 1 Most fortunately there was no ocean 
cable in those days, and the movement of the Atlantic steamers 
was comparatively slow. Accordingly the first intimations of 
the commotion caused in Great Britain by the action of Captain 
Wilkes did not reach America until the arrival of the Hansa 
at New York, December 12. Strange as it now seems, there- 
fore, almost an entire month had elapsed between the arrival 
of the San Jacinto at Fortress Monroe (November 15) and the 
receipt in America (December 12) of any information as to 
the effect of the seizure of the envoys on the British temper. 
A most important fact to be now borne in mind. 

In reading the accounts of what occurred in America between 
November 15 and December 26, and seeing the recorded utter- 
ances of persons whose names carried authority, it is now most 
curious to observe the confusion of idea which seemed to exist 
as to the principles of international law involved, and the ap- 
parent utter inability of all concerned to exercise their reason 
to the extent of preserving consistency of thought or action. 
The affair was looked at from diverse and several points of view ; 

1 Two exceptionally well-informed Americans, long resident in Great Britain, 
then wrote, the one from London to Mr. Seward, and the other from Edinburgh 
to his uncle, a citizen of New York: — "There never was within memory such a 
burst of feeling as has been created by the news of the boarding of the [Trent], 
The people are frantic with rage, and were the country polled, I fear that 999 men 
out of a thousand would declare for immediate war. Lord Palmerston cannot 
resist the impulse if he would;" the other, under the same date, November 29: — 
"The excitement consequent upon the insult to the British flag by the U. S. 
Frigate, San Jacinto, has entirely monopolized the public mind. I have never 
seen so intense a feeling of indignation exhibited in my life. It pervades all 
classes, and may make itself heard above the wiser theories of the Cabinet officers." 
— War Records, Series II. n. 1107, 1131. 


and the point of view implied a great deal. The situation re- 
minds one, in fact, of Browning's poem of "The Ring and the 
Book," where, it will be remembered, the poet approaches 
the mystery from the point of view of each participant in it, 
— whether the woman who was murdered, the husband who 
murdered her, the counsel of the one and of the other, the 
gossip of one half of Rome and the other half of Rome, and 
finally from the standpoint of the Pope. So, to understand 
what was then said and done, the status and capture of the 
Confederate envoys has to be looked at from the Confederate 
point of view, from the Union point of view, from the English 
point of view, and, primarily, from the Captain Charles Wilkes 
point of view. Seen through the perspective of fifty years, it 
may now with reasonable assurance be asserted that, in the 
controversy which ensued, the United States did not have, and 
never had, in reality, a justifying leg to stand upon, and least 
of all was there any possible justification for the course pursued 
by Captain Wilkes. In the first place, Wilkes, commanding a 
United States ship of war, had not been in communication with 
his government for months. He had received no instructions; 
he was not even officially advised of the existence of a blockade; 
and only through the newspapers and current gossip did he 
know of the attitude his own government had assumed towards 
the so-called Confederacy. According to his own statement 
subsequently made, he did have some treatises on interna- 
tional law in the cabin of the San Jacinto, and he consulted 
them. 1 From these he satisfied himself that accredited en- 
voys were " contraband " ; but he ignored the fact that the 
Confederacy had not been recognized by the United States 
Government, or by any foreign government, and that the 
so-called " envoys" were merely "private gentlemen of dis- 
tinction," citizens of certain States then in insurgency, trying 
to effect a transit to foreign countries. They were unques- 

1 "When I heard at Cienfuegos on the south side of Cuba of these commis- 
sioners having landed on the Island of Cuba and that they were at the Havana 
and would depart in the English steamer on the 7 th of November, I determined 
to intercept them and carefully examined all the authorities on international 
law to which I had access, viz., Kent, Wheaton and Vattel, besides various de- 
cisions of Sir William Scott and other judges of the admiralty court of Great 
Britain which bore upon the rights of neutrals and their responsibilities." Official 
report of Captain Wilkes to the Secretary of the Navy. War Records, Series II. 
11. 1098. 

191 1.] THE TRENT AFFAIR. 45 

tionably embarked under a neutral flag, upon a mail steamer 
making its regular passage from one neutral port to 
another. Nevertheless, pro hac vice, Captain Wilkes in- 
vested the envoys in question with an official character which 
his government distinctly refused to allow them, and then 
proceeded on the assumption that ambassadors were "em- 
bodied despatches," to exercise on the high seas a right 
of search of a most questionable character; and, in so doing, 
he further constituted himself, in the person of his subordinate, 
a Prize Court, adjudicating on the deck of a neutral ship for- 
cibly halted in its passage as to what personages should be 
seized, what persons and property should be exempted from 
seizure, as to how far the process of search should be carried, 
and generally what course under the conditions given should 
be pursued. Accordingly, while forcible possession was taken 
of the persons of the two envoys, no inquiry whatever was 
made as to their despatch bags, which, when the purpose of 
the procedure was suspected, had been handed over by the 
Commissioners to the British mail agent, and been by him 
deposited in his mail-room. They were subsequently in due 
course delivered to the agents of the Confederacy in England. 
Incidentally it may here be observed that this proceeding 
on the part of Commander Williams, the mail agent in ques- 
tion, was in plain violation both of recognized British principles 
and precedents regulating the obligations of neutrals as also of 
the Queen's proclamation of the previous May; for that ordi- 
nance specifically warned all British subjects against " carrying 
officers, soldiers, despatches ... for the use or service of 
either of the said contending parties." An English publicist 
of recognized authority was, moreover, at that very time pro- 
nouncing the conveyance of despatches a "service" of the 
"most noxious and hostile character." Clearly, then, Com- 
mander Williams by the acceptance of these despatches, know- 
ing them to be such, from a recognized envoy of one of the 
belligerents, gravely compromised the steamer Trent as well as 
himself. On this point there was no room for doubt; but, on 
the other hand, every Cunard steamer which crossed the Atlan- 
tic — and no others crossed it then — carried despatches from 
the other belligerent, officially received and delivered as such, 
and this not between neutral ports, but between New York or 


Boston and Liverpool. Indeed, if the carrying of despatches 
and envoys had been disallowed, in strict accordance with the 
letter of the proclamation of May, it would have been neces- 
sary at that time for the United States Government to have 
installed an armed ocean mail and passenger service of its own. 
It cannot be denied that, as the British authorities laid the law 
down, and Captain Wilkes put it in practical operation, the 
ocean situation was mixed. Or, as an American publicist writ- 
ing at the time, but without the slightest sense of suppressed 
humor, observed, "it must be admitted that the subject is an 
embarrassing one." * In point of fact it was a farrago of ab- 
surdities, contradictions and incongruities, over which learned 
men pondered and young girls prattled 2 with results about 
equally satisfactory. 3 

Recurring from this digression to what occurred November 
8th in the Bahama Channel, the officer deputed for the work 
by Captain Wilkes, acting under his instruction, thus, it ap- 
peared, arrested and seized only the "embodied despatches"; the 
despatches themselves were, it would seem, not made matter 

1 Dana, Wheaton, 659 n. 2 Rhodes, History, m. 522 n. 

3 The quite unintelligible and somewhat ludicrous state of what is termed 
Law, of the International variety, so far as the topic here in question is concerned, 
is presented in a concrete shape in Moore's Digest, vti. 768-779. The authorities 
are there cited and the discussions of the Trent precedent referred to. The diffi- 
culty seems to arise from the attempt seriously made to apply the principles laid 
down by Vattel, etc., and the precedents established by Lord Stowell to present 
conditions. The existence of modern lines of common-carrier transportation of 
passengers, merchandise and mails under neutral flags between points not actu- 
ally blockaded — lines like the Peninsula and Oriental, the Cunard and the 
White Star — seems not to have occurred to the publicists; while in fact the 
applying to the ships of such lines the rules under which Captain Wilkes thought 
he proceeded, and the application of which Mr. Seward afterwards gravely dis- 
cussed, is hardly less opposed to reason and common sense than would be the atti- 
tude and efforts of a tailor who endeavored to adjust the dress of a seven-year- 
old boy to the body and limbs of the same boy when grown to be a man of un- 
precedented size. In each case the attempt is, or would be, unfortunate, and 
lead inevitably to results unexpected if not impossible. This apparently is the 
one real lesson the world derived from the Trent affair. It seems to be ques- 
tionable, however, whether either the statesmen at the time took in the fact or 
the publicists since have realized it, and the consequent utter futility of what they 
attempted. Let the investigator substitute Lusitania for Trent, and consider 
what would necessarily result. Today, the procedure of Captain Wilkes would, 
if of possible occurrence, be justly looked upon as showing prima facie evidence 
of insanity in the case of a naval officer responsible for it. Its single possible 
justification by his government would be found in Juvenal : 

Hoc volo, sicjubeo, sit pro ratione voluntas. 


even of inquiry. As to this theory of "embodied despatches" 
in the persons of "private gentlemen of distinction," known 
by general fame to be the agents of certain States in insurrec- 
tion and an admitted "belligerent" but not as yet a recognized 
nationality, that was a figment of international law for which 
no precedent could be found in the treatises, devised pro hac 
vice by Captain Charles Wilkes, U. S. N. 

Dismissing for the moment the extraordinary international 
law propositions involved, and recurring to the Wilkes point 
of view, it is obvious that today any such action as that then 
taken by him would on the part of a naval officer be simply 
inconceivable. A similar hypothetical case needs only to be 
suggested in connection with the hostilities now going on in 
the Mediterranean between the Kingdom of Italy and the 
Ottoman Empire. Such a thing as a United States mail steamer 
running between New York, Gibraltar and Alexandria may 
not now exist, but it is supposable; and in such case the flag 
would certainly be found to signify something as respects 
personages as well as mail-bags. The celebrated Koszta case 
of more than half a century ago, though not a precedent strictly 
in point, would be revived in memory, and the spirit therein 
displayed again invoked. The conduct of a commander of a 
United States armed ship of superior force who, chancing to 
be in those waters, at once intervened, and forcibly "rescued" 
both mail-bags and persons from those who had thus exercised 
an alleged right of search and seizure, would be promptly 
approved and sustained. But, under the conditions I have 
referred to as prevailing in this country in the autumn and 
early winter of 1861, Captain Wilkes' conduct was officially 
approved by certain of those in authority, especially by the 
Secretary of the Navy and by the United States House of 
Representatives. It was even contended by high authorities 
that his acts were in substantial accordance with well-estab- 
lished principles of international law, to which, of course, when 
our turn came, we would yield a cheerful and graceful acquies- 
cence. In other words, just fifty years later, the contentions 
and War of 18x2 were on our part all a mistake; the British 
attitude at that time was correct, and the right of search, 
arrest and impressment were at last by us fully conceded ! 

Such was the logical aspect of the matter from the Wilkes 


point of view. Next perhaps to be considered in this cool 
semi-centennial perspective light are the popular, the official 
and the juristic points of view then assumed. So doing really 
now makes one who then lived and actively participated feel 
a little foolish; there is, however, a discipline, and even lesson 
perhaps, in a remorseless retrospect. 

Personally, I have a vivid recollection of the day when the 
news of the seizure was flashed to Boston, and hurriedly plac- 
arded on the newspaper bulletin boards. 1 A youthful legal 
practitioner, I was then a man of twenty-six. I had studied, 
or made an at least honest pretence of so doing, in the office 
of Richard H. Dana, Jr. Mr. Dana was deemed as high an 
authority on maritime law as there was at the American bar. 
Reading the announcement on the bulletin board, I hurried 
up to his office, and communicated the startling news. Well 
do I remember his reception of it. His face lighted up, and, 
clapping his hands with satisfaction over the tidings, he ex- 
pressed his emphatic approval of the act, adding that he would 
risk his " professional reputation" on its legality. And this 
was the view universally expressed and generally accepted. 

The San Jacinto, having put into Fortress Monroe on the 
15th of November, was, for various reasons, ordered to pro- 
ceed at once to New York, and thence to Boston, there to 
deliver its prisoners for safe-keeping. Captain Wilkes anchored 
his ship in Boston harbor on the 24th of November, and two 
days later a banquet was given him and his officers at the Revere 
House, the Hon. J. Wiley Edmands presiding. Mr. Edmands, 
prominent among the solid business men of Boston of that 
period, lived at Newton and was treasurer of the Pacific Mills; 
a Webster Whig in politics, he had been a member of the Thirty- 
Third Congress. The speakers on this occasion seemed to 
vie with each other in establishing a record from which there- 
after it would be impossible to escape. For instance, John A. 
Andrew, then Governor of Massachusetts, a man really great 
but of somewhat impulsive disposition, had been present in 
the office of the Secretary of the Navy when the news of the 

1 Saturday, November 16. On the afternoon of that day the following de- 
spatch was sent from Washington: "The intelligence of the capture of Slidell 
and Mason has diffused the greatest possible joy among all the citizens, including 
the Government officials from the President down to the humblest messenger." 

191 1.] THE TRENT AFFAIR. 49 

seizure came in. Literally swept off his feet, he had then 
sprung upon a chair and been prominent in the tumult of 
cheering which followed the announcement. He now at this 
banquet declared that the act of Captain Wilkes had shown 
"not only wise judgment, but [was marked by] manly and 
heroic success." He referred to it as "one of the most 
illustrious services that had made the war memorable"; and 
then most unnecessarily capped the climax of indiscretion by 
declaring to a delighted audience "that there might be noth- 
ing left [in the episode to] crown the exultation of the Ameri- 
can heart, Commodore Wilkes fired his shot across the bows of 
the ship that bore the British Lion at its head." On the same 
occasion George T. Bigelow, then Chief Justice of Massachu- 
setts, committed himself to an almost though not quite similar 
extent. First he voiced the very prevalent feeling already 
referred to, saying: — "In common with all loyal men of the 
North, I have been sighing, for the last six months, for some 
one who would be willing to say to himself, 'I will take the 
responsibility'; and who would not only say this, but when 
the opportunity offered would take the responsibility." The 
Chief Justice of our Supreme Court then went on to de- 
clare that "Commodore Wilkes acted more from the noble 
instincts of his patriotic heart, than from any sentence he 
read from a law book"; adding that, under such circum- 
stances, "a man does not want to ask counsel, or to con- 
sult judges upon his duty; his heart, his instinct, tells him 
what he ought to do." Well might the London Times in com- 
menting on the affair observe shortly after — "These are wild 
words from lawyers." Captain Wilkes then, in language 
indicative of singular confusion of thought, said that before 
he had decided on his course, he had examined the authorities, 
and satisfied himself that these so-called envoys had none of 
the rights attaching to such functionaries when properly ap- 
pointed; and, concluding that it was within his function to 
capture written despatches, assumed consequently that he had 
a right to take from under a neutral flag personages of dis- 
tinction as the embodiment of despatches. 1 
At Washington the Secretary of the Navy next addressed a 

1 An account of the banquet will be found in the Boston Evening Transcript, 
November 37, 1861. 



congratulatory letter to Captain Wilkes on the "great public 
service" he had rendered, giving to his proceeding the " em- 
phatic approval of this department." He, however, took 
pains to insist that the forbearance of the commander of the 
San Jacinto in this instance in not seizing the Trent and send- 
ing it into port for adjudication by a Prize Court "must by 
no means be permitted to constitute a precedent hereafter for 
the treatment of any case of similar infraction of neutral obli- 
gations." In his annual official report a few days later, Secre- 
tary Welles further stated that the " prompt and decisive 
action of Captain Wilkes on this occasion merited and received 
emphatic approval." On Monday, December 2, Congress 
assembled, and before the close of the first day's session Mr. 
Lovejoy, of Illinois, offered a joint resolution thanking Captain 
Wilkes, "for his brave, adroit and patriotic conduct in the 
arrest and detention of the traitors, James M. Mason and 
John Slidell." This resolution was passed by a unanimous 
vote ; and, furthermore, the President was requested to present 
to Captain Wilkes "a gold medal with suitable emblems and 
devices, in testimony of the high sense entertained by Congress 
of his good conduct," etc. 1 As to the irresponsible outpourings 
and journalistic utterances of those delirious three weeks, it is 
no exaggeration to say that, read today, they are more sug- 
gestive of the incoherences of the inmates of an insane asylum 
than of any well-considered expression of the organs of a sober 
and policed community, — a community which half a century 
only before had gone to war in defence of the great principles 
of immunity from ocean search, and seamen's rights. 

But, most noticeable and, perhaps, most suggestive of all 
the phases of that madness, were the utterances of the publi- 
cists, the supposed authorities on international law and those 
who should have shown themselves the calmly poised leaders 
of public opinion. Here are some of them : — Theophilus 
Parsons was Dane professor of law at Harvard. Professor 
Parsons hurried into print with the following dictum: — "I 
am just as certain that Wilkes had a legal right to take Mason 
and Slidell from the Trent, as I am that our Government has 
a legal right to blockade the port of Charleston." Caleb 
Cushing, in the administration of Franklin Pierce Attorney- 
1 War Records, Series II. n. 11 13. 

191 1.] THE TRENT AFFAIR. 5 1 

General of the United States, was a publicist, and a reputed 
legal authority. Mr. Cushing now wrote: — "To conclude 
then: In my judgment, the act of Captain Wilkes was one 
which any and every self-respecting nation must and would 
have done by its own sovereign right and power, regardless 
of consequences. It was an act which it cannot be denied 
Great Britain would have done under the same circumstances. 
At the same time, it was an act amply justified by the principles 
and doctrines of international jurisprudence. " 

I have already referred to R. H. Dana, and his exclamation 
on first hearing of Captain Wilkes' performance. Mr. Dana 
now wrote in an unsigned communication to the Boston Adver- 
tiser: — "In the present case, the mission [of the two envoys] 
is in its very nature necessarily and solely a mission hostile 
to the United States. It is treason within our municipal law, 
and an act in the highest degree hostile within the law of nations. 
If a neutral vessel intervenes to carry such persons on such a 
mission she commits an act hostile in the same degree. . . . We 
rather look to see Mr. Seward or Mr. Adams call the immediate 
attention of Her Majesty's Government to this violation of 
neutrality than to see Lord Lyons or Earl Russell addressing 
our Government on the subject." 

Finally, Edward Everett, formerly the representative of 
the country at the Court of St. James and an ex-Secretary 
of State, than whom no one stood higher in general estimation 
as an authority on topics of this character, thus publicly ex- 
pressed himself: — "You see that there is not the slightest 
ground for apprehension that there is any illegality in this 
detention of the mail packet; that the detention was perfectly 
lawful, the capture was perfectly lawful, their confinement in 
Fort Warren will be perfectly lawful, and as they will no doubt 
be kept there in safety until the restoration of peace — which 
we all so much desire — we may, I am sure, cordially wish 
them a safe and speedy deliverance." * 

1 In an address on the State of the Country, delivered before the Middlesex 
Mechanics' Association, at Lowell, on Tuesday evening, December 24, 1861. 

There has been a diversity of statement as respects Lewis Cass and his atti- 
tude and utterances in this connection. By some it has been asserted that he 
also was positive that the action of Captain Wilkes was justifiable, both on prin- 
ciple and by precedent. Such, however, was in no degree the case. On the 
contrary, the only recorded expression of opinion by Mr. Cass is refreshing 


But the time at our disposal would not nearly admit of going 
through all the kaleidoscopic phases of this singular but most 
interesting and instructive international episode. The point 
of view now changes. We must imagine ourselves in London, 
and Englishmen. 

On Tuesday, November 12, four days after the actual seizure 
of Messrs. Mason and Slidell, but fifteen days before an inti- 
mation of it reached England, Mr. Adams, then representing 
the country at the Court of St. James, made this diary entry 
— " Received a familiar note from Lord Palmerston, asking 
me to call and see him between one and two o'clock." The 
note, of the briefest possible character, read as follows : — 

92 Piccadilly, 12 Nov., 1861. 
My dear Sir: 

I should be very glad to have a few minutes conversation with you; 
could you without inconvenience call upon me here today at any 
time between one and two. 

Yrs faithfully 

The Honbl. Mr. Adams. 

Though Mr. Adams had at this time been nearly six months 
in London, his official relations had been exclusively with 
Earl Russell; and, though he had met Lord Palmerston several 
times, and more than once been a guest at Cambridge House, 

from its correctness; its practical view of the matter also strongly coincided 
with what Lord Palmerston, as will next be seen, had said to Mr. Adams 
shortly before. The conclusions of General Cass are found in a letter addressed 
to Secretary Seward from Detroit, on the 19th of December, 1861. In his re- 
tirement from active political life, General Cass then wrote: — "Though I think 
it was justifiable upon the grounds laid down and acted upon by England, yet I 
considered it a most useless and unfortunate affair — an affair which from its 
evident importance should never have been undertaken by Captain Wilkes with- 
out express orders from his Government, and his interference is the more inex- 
cusable as he states in his report that in his search into the authorities upon the 
law of nations he could find no such case decided and was brought to consider the 
rebel commissioners as the ' embodiment of despatches ' — I think is his phrase — 
in order to justify the arrest; a strange reason to be officially given for such a 
procedure. And what has amazed me more than anything else in this whole 
affair are the laudations bestowed upon Captain Wilkes for his courage in taking 
three or four unarmed men out of an unarmed vessel." War Records, Series II. 
11. 1 13 2. This position was all the more significant as Cass, when Secretary 
of State, had clearly and fully laid down the American principles of neutral 
rights in a despatch, June 27, 1859, addressed to John Y. Mason, then Minister 
to France. 

igil.] THE TRENT AFFAIR. 53 

their intercourse had been social only. A few days before 
Mr. Adams had been present at the Lord Mayor's dinner, and 
had been one of the speakers on that occasion. In his diary 
entry is the following: "The only marking speech being one 
from Lord Palmerston which had his customary shrewdness. 
He touched gently on our difficulties and at the same time 
gave it clearly to be understood that there is to be no inter- 
ference for the sake of cotton." Shortly after, but before the 
news of the Trent affair arrived, Mr. Adams made the following 
further diary entry: — "In the evening Mrs. Adams and I 
went by invitation to Lady Palmerston's. A few persons only, 
after one of her dinners. We had been invited to dine our- 
selves, last Saturday, and are again invited for next Saturday 
evening. This civility is so significant that it must by no 
means be declined. ... I touched Lord Palmerston a little 
on the event of the day, [the burning of the Harvey Birch by 
the Confederate cruiser Nashville], and reminded him of the 
connection which the Nashville had with our former conver- 
sation. He seemed good-natured and rather desirous to get 
information as to grounds on which to act." The relations 
between the two men had accordingly thus far been of an 
altogether friendly character. The diary entry of November 
12 goes on as follows: — 

This (Lord Palmerston's note) took me by surprise, and I specu- 
lated on the cause for some time without any satisfaction. At one 
o'clock I drove from my house over to his, Cambridge House in 
Piccadilly. In a few minutes he saw me. His reception was very 
cordial and frank. He said he had been made anxious by a notice 
that a United States armed vessel 1 had lately put in to Southampton 
to get coal and supplies. It had been intimated to him that that 
object was to intercept the two men, Messrs. Mason and Slidell, 
who were understood to be aboard the British West India steamer 
expected to arrive tomorrow or next day. He had been informed 
that the Captain, having got gloriously drunk on brandy on Sunday 
had dropped down to the mouth of the river yesterday as if on the 
watch. He did not pretend to judge absolutely of the question 
whether we had a right to stop a foreign vessel for such a purpose 

1 The James Adger, commanded by Captain J. B. Marchant. In regard to this 
incident, see Charles Francis Adams (Am. Statesmen Series), 222-224; Records 
of Union and Confederate Navies, 1. 128, 224; Adams, Studies: Military and 
Diplomatic, 394. 


as was indicated. Even admitting that we might claim it, it was 
yet very doubtful whether the exercise of it in this way could lead 
to any good. The effect of it here would be unfavorable, as it would 
seem as if the vessel had come in here to be filled with coal and sup- 
plies, and the Captain had enjoyed the hospitality of the country 
in filling his stomach with brandy, only to rush out of the harbor 
and commit violence upon their flag. Neither did the object to be 
gained seem commensurate with the risk. For it was surely of no 
consequence whether one or two more men were added to the two 
or three who had already been so long here. They would scarcely 
make a difference in the action of the government after once having 
made up its mind. 

The remainder of this diary entry is long, and not germane 
to the present occasion. I, therefore, omit it. But the ex- 
treme significance of the intimation thus unofficially and pleas- 
antly conveyed was not apparent at the time; indeed it was 
not fully disclosed until half a century later. Mr. Adams 
never knew the motive cause of the interview he was describing, 
and consequently never appreciated the really kind purpose 
behind this most friendly action of the man at the head of the 
government to which he was accredited. It was an effort 
to forestall and prevent an international complication even 
more objectless than it was dangerous, a senseless wrangle over 
two men who were of no consequence anyway. 

To appreciate the true significance of the interview described 
in his diary by Mr. Adams it is necessary to bear in mind that 
it took place on the 12 th of November, the Confederate envoys 
having been taken on the 8th from the Trent. On the day 
preceding his talk with Mr. Adams, Lord Palmerston, it now 
appears, had addressed the following letter to J. T. Delane, 
the editor of the Times: 

94, Piccadilly, November 11, 1861. 
My dear Delane: 

It may be useful to you to know that the Chancellor, Dr. Lush- 
ington, the three Law Officers, Sir G. Grey, the Duke of Somerset, 
and myself, met at the Treasury today to consider what we could 
properly do about the American cruiser come, no doubt, to search 
the West Indian packet supposed to be bringing hither the two South- 
ern envoys; and, much to my regret, it appeared that, according to 
the principles of international law laid down in our courts by Lord 
Stowell, and practised and enforced by us, a belligerent has a right 

iqii.] THE TRENT AFFAIR. 55 

to stop and search any neutral not being a ship of war, and being 
found on the high seas and being suspected of carrying enemy's 
despatches; and that consequently this American cruiser might, 
by our own principles of international law, stop the West Indian 
packet, search her, and if the Southern men and their despatches 
and credentials were found on board, either take them out, or seize 
the packet and carry her back to New York for trial. Such being 
the opinion of our men learned in the law, we have determined to 
do no more than to order the Phaeton frigate to drop down to Yar- 
mouth Roads and watch the proceedings of the American within 
our three-mile limit of territorial jurisdiction, and to prevent her 
from exercising within that limit those rights which we cannot dis- 
pute as belonging to her beyond that limit. 

In the meanwhile the American captain, having got very drunk, 
this morning at Southampton with some excellent brandy, and 
finding it blow heavily at sea, has come to an anchor for the night 
within Calshot Castle, at the entrance of the Southampton river. 

I mention these things for your private information. 
Yours sincerely, 


And, the following day, immediately after his talk with Mr. 
Adams, he further wrote: — 

My dear Delane: 

I have seen Adams today, and he assures me that the American 
paddle-wheel was sent to intercept the Nashville if found in these 
seas, but not to meddle with any ship under a foreign flag. He said 
he had seen the commander, and had advised him to go straight home ; 
and he believed the steamer to be now on her way back to the United 
States. This is a very satisfactory explanation. 

Yours sincerely, 


While the opinion of the officers of the Crown referred to was 
no mystery at the time, and is mentioned, though in much 
more general language, by Spencer Walpole in his Life of Lord 
Russell (n. 354-356), yet the statement here made of that 
opinion by Lord Palmerston is well calculated to excite sur- 
prise. It will be noticed that the officers referred to — the 
Lord Chancellor, Westbury, and Dr. Lushington being among 
them — are said to have laid it down as law that the belligerent 
had a right to stop and search any neutral, not being a ship 
of war, on the high seas, suspected of carrying enemy's de- 


spatches. Consequently, then, in this case, the Southern in- 
surgents having been granted belligerent rights, the San Jacinto 
might, on English principles of international law, stop the 
Trent, search her, and if the Southern men were on board, 
either do exactly what Captain Wilkes had already just done, 
— take them out, and then allow the packet to proceed on its 
voyage, — or seize the packet and carry her to some American 
port for trial and adjudication as prize. 

Here is indeed another turn of the Trent kaleidoscope, — 
a British turn! That just half a century ago such an opinion 
as this should have been advanced as accepted international 
law seems incredible. It indicates clearly how confused, as 
well as archaic, the principles of that law were at the time in 
question in the minds of those supposed to be learned in it. No 
war involving maritime rights to any considerable extent had 
occurred since Waterloo. The precedents established in the 
English Prize Courts in the days of Napoleon's " Continental 
System" and the British " Orders in Council," and the prin- 
ciples then laid down, utterly regardless as they notoriously 
had been of the rights of neutrals, were held to be still law. 
Those precedents and rulings were of the most miscellaneous 
description and arbitrary character. Meanwhile, the world 
had progressed. It is, therefore, simply astounding to us in 
191 1 that the law officers of the Crown should in 1861 have 
advised her Majesty's government that an American ship- 
of-war might lie in the straits of Dover, and, having reason to 
suppose that an emissary of the Confederacy, carrying de- 
spatches, was on a certain steamer, — the Calais packet, for 
instance, — could stop the steamer in question, subject it to 
search, and either take out the envoy referred to, and his 
despatches, leaving the steamer then to complete its course, 
or could pronounce her a prize of war for violation of neutrality, 
and send her into port for adjudication! Or, to put the case 
in a different way, difficulties of a revolutionary character 
have recently occurred in Mexico, and are now, as is well known, 
agitating Portugal. Is it supposable that a Mexican or Portu- 
guese man-of-war commissioned by the recognized govern- 
ment, rights of belligerency having for reasons of commerce 
or humanity been conceded, — is it, I say, even remotely sup- 
posable that, under such circumstances, a Mexican or Portu- 


guese battleship could now lie in wait off Long Island on the 
course of the trans-Atlantic steamers, and, having sufficient 
reason to believe that either despatches were being carried 
in those steamers, or that a Mexican or Portuguese envoy was 
among its passengers, could proceed to stop and search the 
ocean-liner, forcibly arrest the persons in question, and with 
them steam away, or, then and there, compel the ship — the 
Lusitania or the Oceanic, let us say — to abandon its voyage, 
and send it into a Mexican or Portuguese port for adjudication! 1 
The thing is too absurd for a moment's consideration. Yet 
then it seems to have been laid down as the accepted law of 
Great Britain; and according to Lord Chancellor Westbury 
and Dr. Lushington, Mr. George Sumner, the brother of the 
Senator of the same name, was not wrong when at this time 
(November 22) he wrote to the New York Tribune that, "The 
act of Commodore Wilkes was in strict accordance with the 
principles of international law recognized in England, and in 
strict conformity with English practice." One American at 
least seems here to have then spoken correctly and by the 
book. He said "English principles" and "English practice"! 
If it was law and practice in Great Britain then, it was law 
and practice nowhere else; least of all in the United States. 

But was the position thus taken sound as a proposition of 
even British law? This is open to grave question; nor did it 
pass unchallenged at the time. The point was well put by the 
Duke of Argyll, himself a member of the British ministry, in a 
letter to Mr. Adams written on the 25th of the following Jan- 
uary. 2 Referring to the objection subsequently made to the 

1 These very instances were at the time cited as possibilities by Earl Russell 
in his despatch to Lord Lyons, closing the discussion on the side of the British 
government. In addition thereto the following — " So also a Confederate vessel- 
of-war [e. g. the Alabama] might capture a Cunard steamer on its way from 
Halifax to Liverpool, on the ground of its carrying despatches from Mr. Seward 
to Mr. Adams." It is difficult now of belief that in 186 1 an experienced American 
naval officer should have undertaken to establish a precedent logically implying 
such obvious consequences, and this on his own initiative; that the most learned 
legal authorities in America should have unequivocally sustained him in such 
an act, insisting on its unquestionable legality, fairly surpasses belief. Yet the 
evidence is conclusive that at the time American public opinion was well-nigh 
unanimous in support of the proposition, and had persuaded itself, or was per- 
suaded, that Great Britain should be held to a future strict responsibility and 
account for failing to give immediate and willing assent to it. 

2 See p. 137, infra. 



act of Captain Wilkes that the Trent was not taken into port 
for adjudication, he characterized it as one made on "a narrow 
and technical ground." He then proceeded as follows: "This 
is a very minor objection, tho' so far as it goes, a sound one. 
But the real objection I hold to be a much stronger one, viz., 
that a neutral vessel, with a bona fide, neutral destination, 
cannot contain contraband of war at all, and that civilians, 
especially, bound for a neutral country cannot, under any 
circumstances, be held to be subject to seizure as Contraband. 
I venture to affirm that no decision of any of our Judges, nor 
any act of our Government can be cited as inconsistent with 
this doctrine." 

This, even if advanced by a layman, was certainly good sense, 
and probably sound law. Admitting, however, that as a mere 
proposition of existing law, wise or not wise as a question of 
policy, the British precedents and practice were as laid down 
by the law-advisers of the Crown, if such a contingency as that 
of the Trent arose there was but one course to be pursued by 
any self-respecting nation. If such was once the law, the world 
had outgrown it; it was law no longer. In any event, it could 
not possibly be observed as such by any nation powerful enough 
to set it at naught. The case did not admit of argument. 

The course, therefore, to be pursued by the British Govern- 
ment under the circumstances which then confronted it, was 
simple, and exactly the course that was pursued. The matter 
was referred back to the law officers of the Crown, with in- 
structions to reconsider the subject. The subject was recon- 
sidered, and different conclusions arrived at. Nevertheless, 
those conclusions commend themselves little more to present 
judgment than the previous opinion. It was now held that the 
attitude of the American Government was untenable because in 
assuming authority under the accepted law of nations, as laid 
down in the reports and treatises, Captain Wilkes had under- 
taken to pass upon the issue of a violation of neutrality on the 
spot, instead of sending the Trent as a prize into port for judi- 
cial adjudication. There is about the position thus assumed 
in 1 86 1 something which seems in 191 1 little short of the gro- 
tesque. Nevertheless, so the case stood at that time; and, as 
mere technical law, the point probably was, as the Duke of 
Argyll said in his letter to Mr. Adams, well taken. At any rate 


it met in a way the requirements of that particular occasion, 
and was gravely advanced and argued over pro and con by 
able and adroit men holding high official positions. It was, 
however, recognized all through as a solemn farce. As a 
question of practical statesmanship, the world manifestly had 
burst asunder those particular swaddling clothes. It is con- 
tentions of this character which bring law into contempt. 

One more turn of the kaleidoscope, and I am through for 
this occasion. Leaving London and the legal advisers of Her 
Majesty's Government, we travel back to Boston. The San 
Jacinto, with the two Confederate envoys on board, — more 
guests of the Captain than prisoners of state, 1 — steamed into 
Boston harbor on the 24th of November. Fort Warren had 
been designated as, pro hac vice, the American Tower, or Bas- 
tile. Fort Warren is situated on George's Island, commanding 
the main ship-channel, so called, at the entrance of Boston 
harbor. Small in area, the island is almost entirely covered 
by the fort; and, as is well known, the sea-shore of Massachu- 
setts Bay is, as a winter resort, inclement. Though, as already 
mentioned, both Mr. Mason and Mr. Slidell were peculiarly 
obnoxious to the loyal North and especially to New Englanders, 
there were a number of residents of Boston who had in one way 
or another been personally associated with them in former 
times, and even under obligations to them. Among these was 
Mr. Robert C. Winthrop, long a member of Congress from Mas- 
sachusetts, speaker of the national House of Representatives, 
and, for a time, the occupant of a seat in the United States 
Senate. Those were the days of the comparatively "simple life " 
in Washington, and while in the Senate together Mr. Mason and 
Mr. Winthrop had belonged to the same "mess," as the board- 
ing-house arrangements of those days were termed. As Mr. 
Winthrop now wrote in a familiar letter to Mr. John P. Kennedy, 
another of his Congressional associates, referring to the dedi- 
cation in 1857 of the statue of Joseph Warren in Bunker Hill 
monument, when he had introduced both Mr. Mason and 
Mr. Kennedy, — "His tone was insolent enough on that occa- 
sion, 2 yet I will not triumph over him now. ... I sent down 
some sherry a fortnight ago, and offered to go myself, but the 

1 Mason, Public Life, 224, 225. 

2 But on this point see Mason, Public Life, 123-125. 


officer said I could speak to none of. them. ... I also helped 
to get some great coats to prevent the North Carolina soldiers 
from freezing." There certainly was biblical authority for such 
action under these circumstances on the part of Mr. Winthrop. 
At the same juncture, it so chanced that Colonel W. Raymond 
Lee and Major Paul J. Revere, of the 20th Massachusetts Vol- 
unteers, were with other Massachusetts officers prisoners of 
war at Richmond. It cannot be denied that as such they were 
treated with great severity, almost indeed as if they had been 
common criminals. If, however, at that time any prominent 
citizen of Richmond, who had previously received attentions 
at their hands in Boston, had endeavored to alleviate the hard- 
ships of prison life, we can feel assured he would have been 
denounced by the Southern press as supplying luxuries to those 
who could only be compared with the minions of Attila or some 
other great barbarian destroyer. In those days somewhat 
exaggerated metaphors and comparisons were in over-common 
use, and, as will immediately be seen, history quite failed to 
supply either of the two sides with precedents or examples 
equal to the occasion's requirements. Until then the lowest 
depths of depravity had not been sounded; " history did not 
record, ' ' etc. , e tc. ! And yet even at that juncture such Samaritan 
action as that suggested on the part of some Richmond resi- 
dent towards Lee and Revere would hardly have been regarded 
in Boston as conduct suitable for bitter denunciation only. 
Thus viewed, in alteram partem, it is curious now to read the 
bitter words in which the very simple courtesy of Mr. Winthrop 
and others was denounced by the New England press. The 
Boston Transcript, for instance, in its issue of Thursday evening, 
December 12, 1861, gave vent to the following growl: "We beg 
to suggest to those whom it may concern to leave the care of 
men, one of whom is the personification of arrogance, and the 
other of craft, to the proper authorities. We beg them not 
again to outrage public opinion by sending their champagne 
and other luxuries to the avowed enemies of the United States." 
And yet this merely echoed an utterance from Governor Andrew, 
conveyed in a private but published letter dated at the State 
House, December nth. Referring to what he termed "the 
numerous manifestations of misplaced sympathy by some citi- 
zens of Boston with the rebel prisoners confined at Fort War- 

191 1 J THE TRENT AFFAIR. 6 1 

ren," Governor Andrew then said: "I fully appreciate your 
feelings in this matter, and share with the writer of the Post in 
his condemnation of that sympathy with traitors, which makes 
men in comparison with whom Benedict Arnold was a saint, 
comfortable in their confinement, while our own brave defenders 
of liberty and Union and the rights of man, are cut off from all 
such sympathy by the rigorous despotism of the Southern 
oligarchy, — but I do not know of anything that I can do to 
prevent it." When such utterances emanate from a man of 
the high character and natural kindliness of Governor Andrew, 
it is possible for those who did not, as well as for those who did 
live in those times, to imagine the grim murkiness, so to speak, 
of the language elsewhere heard. For example, here is an illus- 
trative extract from the newspapers of the time: "Mr. Wendell 
Phillips, in a lecture delivered at the New Music Hall on the 
evening of Wednesday, November 27, 1861, observed: 'If at 
the outbreak of the present troubles Breckinridge, Mason, 
Slidell, Toombs, Hunter, Wise, and others had been hung, and 
a frigate or two had been sent to Charleston, Savannah and 
New Orleans, and shelled those cities, there never would have 
been any rebellion.'" Mr. Phillips was never conspicuous for 
tolerance or for moderation of speech, nor could any marked 
degree of sanity of judgment be fairly attributed to him; it is, 
however, at this distance of time curious to see that even he 
should in 1861 have so utterly misjudged the courage as well 
as the earnestness of the South. But in 191 1 it has an even more 
curious and exaggerated sound to hear John A. Andrew referring 
to the two Confederates in question as men in comparison with 
whom " Benedict Arnold was a saint." Whatever may be said 
against either Mr. Mason or Mr. Slidell, — and much certainly 
can in both justice and truth be said, — it can never be asserted 
that they were guilty of treachery or of secret treasons. They 
proclaimed their opinions loudly enough, and thereon, early and 
late, "made good." Nevertheless, Mr. Winthrop's attitude 
towards them on this occasion excited so much feeling that he 
wrote to his friend Kennedy as follows: "A miserable clamor 
has been raised by a few of our bitter spirits because some per- 
sons have sent down a few creature comforts to alleviate the 
condition of old friends. One of our malignant presses calls 
us sympathizers in Rebellion and threatens to send our names 


to the Secretary of State ! I hope you will give Seward to under- 
stand that a malicious spirit of misrepresentation prevails in 
this quarter, which vents itself upon everybody who is not 
ready to embark in an Abolition Crusade. For myself, I have 
done so little for the prisoners, that I feel a compunction at 
having seemed wanting in kindness. It is wretched policy not 
to treat them with humanity and consideration." This episode 
constitutes a mere insignificant footnote in the record of that 
period; but it brings forcibly to mind the morbid and unreason- 
ing state of public opinion. 

One point further: — a point curiously illustrative of the 
thoroughness with which this particular piece of historical 
ground has been gone over, and the difficulty of now reaching 
any novel conclusions in regard to those who played their 
parts in connection with it. As a final result of recent in- 
vestigations I had reached the conclusion that, among those 
occupying positions of prominence and political responsibility 
in American public life at the time, two only preserved their 
poise throughout the Mason and Slidell episode, and, taking 
in all the aspects of the situation, both acted with discretion and 
counselled wisely. These two were Montgomery Blair, the 
Postmaster General in Lincoln's Cabinet, and, somewhat strange 
to say, Charles Sumner. They alone, using the vernacular, did 
not "slop over," prematurely and inconsiderately committing 
either themselves or the country, whether in private speech or 
public utterance. Though not quoted at the time, Mr. Blair's 
attitude was the more pronounced. According to Secretary 
Welles, he "from the first denounced Wilkes's act as unauthor- 
ized, irregular and illegal"; and even went so far as to advise 
that Wilkes be ordered to take the San Jacinto and go with 
Mason and Slidell to England, and deliver them to the British 
Government. 1 In view of the excitement and unreasoning con- 
dition of the public mind such a disposition of the question was, 
perhaps, practically impossible; though even this admits of 
question. Nevertheless, seen through the vista of half a cen- 
tury, this would clearly have been the wisest as well as the most 
dignified course to pursue, far more so than that ultimately 

1 This course was, it is said, also at the moment advocated by General Mc- 
Clellan, then organizing the Army of the Potomac, and practically commander- 
in-chief in succession to General Scott. Russell, My Diary, n. 405. 


adopted; for, as Secretary Welles, a dozen years later, wrote, 
"the prompt and voluntary disavowal of the act of Wilkes, and 
delivering over the prisoners, would have evinced our confi- 
dence in our own power, and been a manifestation of our in- 
difference and contempt for the emissaries, and a rebuke to the 
alleged intrigues between the rebels and the English cabinet." x 
Mr. Welles might have further remarked that such a disposi- 
tion of the matter, besides being in strict consistency with a 
long-proclaimed international policy, would have afforded for 
the navy a most salutary disciplinary example. 

As I have said, the attitude and bearing of Mr. Sumner 
throughout those trying days were above criticism. With a 
proper sense of the responsibility due to his official position, 
that of Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Rela- 
tions, he was silent, biding his time; and, when that time came, 
he used his influence in such a way as to produce results not 
wholly unworthy of a great nation passing through a trying 
ordeal. This conclusion I had reached, and was prepared to set 
forth as one that might have a certain degree of novelty as well 
as weight, the matured judgment of half a century subsequent 
to the event. Fortunately for myself, before so doing, I glanced 
once more over the pages of our associate, Mr. James Ford 
Rhodes. In the chapter of his History (in. 523-524) in which 
he deals with the affair of the Trent, I then found the following : 
— "Of all the men in responsible positions, Sumner and Blair 
saw the clearest. They were in favor of at once surrendering 
to England the Confederate Commissioners." 

My "novel" judgment, slowly reached at the close of half a 
century, had been, it would thus appear, anticipated by my 
associate here by about sixteen years! 

But there is another aspect of the Trent affair and its out- 
come, which, from the historical point of view, is, I believe, 
novel; and that in closing I propose to bring to view, emphasiz- 
ing it as forcibly as I can. But in order to appreciate this 
aspect of the affair it is necessary clearly to bear in mind the 
sequence of events, the intervals of time which elapsed and the 

1 Lincoln and Seward (1874), 186-187. This was an opinion formed later 
and on more mature reflection. At the time of the occurrence of the " affair" 
the attitude of Secretary Welles was pronounced, and his utterances were pecu- 
liarly indiscreet as well as precipitate. See Diary, 1. 299, 466, 490. 


exact date of each occurrence. The arrest of the Trent and the 
seizure of the two envoys took place in the Bahama Channel, 
November 8; the interview between Lord Palmerston and 
Mr. Adams at Cambridge House, at which Lord Palmerston 
suggested that the presence of the two envoys in Europe was 
"of no consequence" and " would scarcely make a difference 
in the action of the government" was on the 12th, and the 
despatch of Mr. Adams conveying this most significant intima- 
tion to Secretary Seward was received by the latter before 
November 30. This was fourteen days after the news of the 
seizure had been made known in the United States (Novem- 
ber 16) and the public excitement had already begun to sub- 
side. Tidings of the affair had reached England three days 
only before, on the 27th, and the despatch of Earl Russell to 
Lord Lyons demanding the immediate surrender of the two 
envoys, dated November 30, reached Washington December 
18, or a little over a full month after the news of the seizure 
of the envoys had made wild the American public. 

At the time great emphasis was laid on the general prepara- 
tions for war entered upon by the British government in case 
of a refusal to yield to the ultimatum presented. It was here 
pronounced unnecessary, irregular, minatory, and insulting; 
and subsequent American historical investigators and publi- 
cists have continued to so pronounce it. There is no question 
that Great Britain was in dead earnest in its demand for imme- 
diate reparation, and acted accordingly. The arsenals were 
busy; all available forces were mobilized; troops embarked 
for Canada. 

And why such daily cast of brazen cannon, 

And foreign mart for implements of war; 

Why such impress of shipwrights, whose sore task 

Does not divide the Sunday from the week. 

What might be toward . . . 

The answer was ready; as was then alleged, and has since 
been reiterated, it was on the part of Great Britain a case of 
uncalled for, unnecessarily offensive braggadocio and bullying; 
and it was resented as such. Yet something was, and is, fairly 
to be said on the other side. The critics were not careful as to 
their facts, the sequence of events and the natural operation 
of cause and effect. Again it is necessary to bear dates clearly 

191 1.] THE TRENT AFFAIR. 65 

in mind. Commenting on thisphaseof the "affair," R. H. Dana, 
for instance, with singular carelessness says in his elaborate 
note in his edition of Wheaton — "The news of the capture of 
Messrs. Mason and Slidell reached Washington about the same 
time it reached London." : This is erroneous, and the error 
vitiates Mr. Dana's whole criticism on the minatory course 
pursued by Great Britain. The news of the seizure, not " cap- 
ture," reached Washington November 16; the same news did 
not reach London until the 27th, or eleven days later. Those 
eleven days of difference were pregnant with consequences; 
for during them the United States went crazy, and it was then 
that the news not of the seizure but of the storm of American 
approval thereof reached London " about the same time." 
The announcement a few days later of the Governor of Massa- 
chusetts at the Wilkes dinner in Boston (November 26) that 
"a shot fired across the bows of the ship that bore the English 
lion's head" had filled to the brim the cups of America's satis- 
faction over the event, followed hard by the " emphatic ap- 
proval" of the act of the Secretary of the Navy and its unani- 
mous endorsement by Congress — these surely were not utter- 
ances or incidents calculated either to allay British excitement 
or to lead to a countermand of warlike preparation. Even on 
the very eve of the surrender, it was publicly alleged and on 
excellent authority that the President had emphatically an- 
nounced: — "I would sooner die than give them up." This 
probably was not true; it was, however, believed both in 
Washington and in London. In London also it was suspected, 
especially in inner ministerial circles, 2 — and on good grounds 

1 Wheaton, 654. 

2 The Duke of Newcastle, who had accompanied the Prince of Wales in his 
visit to America in the summer and autumn of i860, was at this time Colonial 
Secretary in the Palmerston-Russell government. On June 5, 1861, five months 
before the occurrence of the Trent affair, he thus wrote in an official letter to Sir 
Edmund Head, Governor- General of Canada: — "I entirely concur in what you 
say in your letter of the 18th May about Mr. Seward's speculations and unfriendly 
views towards Canada, but I think you hardly make sufficient allowance for his 
hyper-American use of the policy of bully and bluster. When I saw him at 
Albany last October he fairly told me he should make use of insults to England 
to secure his own position in the States, and that I must not suppose he meant 
war. On the contrary, he did not wish war with England, and he was confident 
we should never go to war with the States — we dared not and could not afford it." 

On December 5th following, in the heat of the excitement of the Trent affair, 
Newcastle wrote to Lord Monck, then in command of the forces in Canada: — 


it has since appeared, — that Mr. Seward had, only a few months 
previously, desired to provoke trouble with Great Britain with 
ulterior purposes in view. The opportunity for so doing had 
now presented itself; nor was there any reason to suppose 
that the views of the Secretary had recently undergone change. 
Under such circumstances, however, it was perhaps in no way 
so remarkable, nor did it afford just ground for animadversion, 
that the din of preparation for war in the one country was con- 
current with the din of approval of the seizure in the other. 

"Soon after your last letter was written [November 16] you must have learnt 
of the affair of the Trent, and the serious complications which it must produce. 
I am bound to warn you that war is too likely to be the result. Such an insult 
to our flag can only be atoned by the restoration of the men who were seized 
when under its protection, and with Mr. Seward at the helm of the United States, 
and the mob and the Press manning the vessel, it is too probable that this atone- 
ment may be refused." 

To the same effect, William H. Russell wrote as follows to the Times: — "In 
the present temper of the American people, no concessions can avert serious 
complications very long, or the surrender of all the boasted privileges of the 
Civis Romanus. . . . 

"There is a popular passion and vengeance to be gratified by the capturing 
and punishment of Mr. Mason and Mr. Slidell, and I believe the Government 
will retain them at all risks because it dare not give them up, not being strong 
enough to do what is right, in the face of popular sentiment. ... I was much 
struck with the deep spirit of animosity displayed by some friends of mine, for 
whom I entertain a great respect, in speaking of the probable act of Great Britain: 
— ' If we are forced now in our hour of weakness to give up Mason and Slidell, I 
trust to God that every man in America will make a solemn resolve to let England 
feel the force of our resentment and an undying revenge when next she is involved 
in any difficulty.'" Letter of November 12, printed in the issue of the Times 
for December 3, 1861. 

"As I write there is a rumour that Messrs. Mason and Slidell are to be sur- 
rendered. If it be true this Government is broken up. There is so much violence 
of spirit among the lower orders of the people, and they are so ignorant of every- 
thing except their own politics and passions, so saturated with pride and vanity 
that any honorable concession even in this hour of extremity would prove fatal 
to its authors." From letter dated November 25, in the issue of the Times of 
December 10, 1861. 

The general understanding and accepted popular convictionln Great Britain 
was thus set forth in an editorial in the Illustrated London News of December 14, 
1 861: "While it is broadly stated on all hands on this side of the water that a 
restoration of the old Union is assuming the aspect of an impossibility, it has 
been whispered that such an opinion has secretly taken root in the minds of the 
Cabinet at Washington, and that a contest with England is adopted as a policy 
out of which may spring a pretext for the ultimate acknowledgment of the inde- 
pendence of the South. If this is really the case, why, all ground for argument 
is cut away, and it must be readily admitted that no course more calculated to 
attain that end could have been selected than that of bringing on a quarrel with 
this country." 


Meanwhile the news of the excitement occasioned throughout 
Great Britain by Wilkes' act had reached America on the 12th, 
six days previous. The four dates most necessary to bear in 
mind are therefore the 16th of November, when the news of the 
seizure reached America; the 27th of the same month, when 
the same news reached Europe; the 12th of December, when 
the extreme seriousness of the situation dawned on the Ameri- 
can mind through tidings of the British excitement and conse- 
quent demands; and, finally, the 18th of December, when it 
became apparent that a decision as to the course to be by it 
pursued had to be reached within one week by the American 
Government. Thus, between the date of the arrival of the 
San Jacinto at Hampton Roads (November 15), and the 
announcement from Washington that the envoys would be 
surrendered (December 26) forty days elapsed. This was a 
most important factor; for, as the result showed, during that 
period the popular effervescence had time in which to subside, 
while by the forty-first day the sober second thought might 
to a degree be invoked with some assurance of a response. 
An Anglo-Saxon community rarely goes daft permanently. 

It was so in this case; and, though both in public and pri- 
vate, some, like Hale of New Hampshire and Lovejoy of Illi- 
nois in Congress, and two of the sons of Mr. Adams in private 
correspondence, foamed at the mouth, swearing inextinguish- 
able hatred of Great Britain and asseverating an unalterable 
determination to bide their time for revenge on that arrogant 
and overbearing nationality, 1 so far as the great body of public 

1 The absurdities and excesses of speech into which the prevailing epidemic 
of excitement led people at this juncture seem now simply incredible. For in- 
stance, one gentleman rushed into print proposing as a remedy for existing con- 
ditions that Mason and Slidell should at once be sentenced, convicted as traitors, 
and hanged, — this before Great Britain could formulate any demands for their 
surrender. The whole difficulty, he claimed, could thus be disposed of. 

The favorite formula, however, seems to have been of a Hamilcarian character, 
— that is, the swearing of one's offspring to eternal hatred. Of this there were 
many cases; for example, Mr. Lovejoy, a member of Congress, of Illinois, thus 
expressed himself on the floor of the House of Representatives on the afternoon 
of January 7, when the correspondence between Secretary Seward and the British 
Government, relative to the Trent case, were laid before the House: "I am made 
to renew the horrible grief which I suffered when the news of the surrender of 
Mason and Slidell came. I acknowledge it, I literally wept tears of vexation. 
I hate it; and I hate the British government. I have never shared in the tradi- 
tional hostility of many of my countrymen against England. But I now here 
publicly avow and record my inextinguishable hatred of that government. I 


opinion was concerned the insanity passed away almost as 
suddenly as it had asserted itself. Reason resumed its sway. 

And yet, while this greatly to the credit of the American 
people proved in the outcome to be the case, at the time such 
grave doubt was felt as to the popular reception of the decision 
to surrender the envoys that they were actually smuggled out 
of Boston harbor, Province town being selected as the point of 
delivery to a British frigate. This was suggested by Mr. Seward 
to Lord Lyons as the better course, the Secretary being " ap- 
prehensive that some outrage would be offered by the populace 
to the prisoners and the British flag." No sufficient grounds 
in reality existed for any such apprehension, but at the same 
time a reliable correspondent wrote from Boston to Charles 
Sumner that "the whole population were terribly excited, 
ready to plan any kind of an expedition to sink the vessel that 
should be sent to convey the Rebels from Fort Warren." 1 So 
general was this belief that Russell, the Times correspondent, 
then at Washington and in very direct daily communication 
with the best informed authorities, "resolved to go to Boston 
being satisfied that a great popular excitement and uprising 
will, in all probability, take place." 2 The delivery did not, 
however, in fact, occasion a ripple of lawlessness. 

Such being the facts of the "affair" and the dates of the 
occurrences in its development, it is of interest now, and cer- 
tainly not without its value as matter of experience, to con- 
mean to cherish it while I live, and to bequeath it as a legacy to my children 
when I die. And if I am alive when war with England comes, as sooner or later 
it must, for we shall never forget this humiliation, and if I can carry a musket in 
that war I will carry it. I have three sons, and I mean to charge them, and do 
now publicly and solemnly charge them, that if they shall have at that time 
reached the years of manhood and strength, they shall enter into that war." 

To the same effect Captain Dahlgren, of the navy, vowed to Mr. Russell that 
if England should avail herself "of the temporary weakness of the United States 
to get back the rebel commissioners by threats or force, every American should 
make his son swear eternal hostility to Great Britain." 

Finally, one of Mr. Adams' sons, writing to his father, expressed himself in 
the same vein, as follows: — "I at least would care to impress but one thing on a 
son of mine, and that should be inveterate, undying, immortal hatred of Great 
Britain. In this I do not feel that I am at all exaggerating the general feeling 
here." He wrote December 30, 1861. 

A curious collection might be made of utterances of the same import at that 

1 Works, vni. 102. 

2 Russell, My Diary, 11. 428-429. 

igil.] THE TRENT AFFAIR. 69 

sider the courses then possible to have been pursued by the 
United States and to contrast them, coolly and reflectively, 
with that which was actually pursued. And in so doing the 
thought which first suggests itself is one not conducive in us 
to an increased sense of national pride. What an opportunity 
was then lost! How completely our public men, and through 
them our community, failed to rise to the height of the occasion! 
For, viewed in the perspective of history, it is curious, and for 
an American of that period almost exasperating, to reflect 
upon what a magnificent move in the critical game then con- 
ducted would have been made had the advice of Montgomery 
Blair been followed to the letter and in spirit. To carry out 
the simile, by such a playing of the pieces on the board as he 
suggested, how effectually a checkmate would have been 
administered to the game of both the Confederates and their 
European sympathizers! In the first place, the act of Wilkes, 
as was subsequently and on better reflection universally con- 
ceded, was ill-considered, improper, and in violation of all 
correct naval usage. It should have been rebuked accord- 
ingly and officers should have been taught by example and 
at the commencement that they were neither diplomatic 
representatives nor judicial tribunals administering admiralty 
law. It was for them to receive instructions and implicitly to 
obey them. A reprimand of much the same nature was at almost 
this very time administered to General John C. Fremont, when 
in Missouri he undertook by virtue of martial law to proclaim 
the freedom of the slave throughout the military department 
under his command. His ill-considered order was revoked; 
and he was officially instructed that he was to confine himself 
to his military functions, and that the administration reserved 
to itself all action of a political character. So much for Captain 
Wilkes, and the reprimand he should have received because of 
his indiscreet and unauthorized proceeding. 
. Next/"such a line of conduct would have been on the part of 
the Government in severe and manly adherence to the past 
contentions of the United States. It would have recognized in 
the action taken by Wilkes an attempt to carry the right of 
search and power of impressment far beyond any precedent 
ever established by the British Government, even in the days 
of its greatest maritime ascendency, and consequent arrogance. 


In the strong and contemptuous language of Mr. Adams, 
America, in sustaining Wilkes, was consenting "to take up and 
to wear [Britain's] cast-off rags." If, instead of so bedizening 
itself, the United States had boldly, defiantly, and at once now 
adhered to its former contentions, its attitude would have 
been simply magnificent; and, as such, it would have com- 
manded respect and admiration. 

Nor was this aspect of the situation wholly unseen by some 
at the time; for, writing from his post in London to J. L. Motley 
in Vienna on the 4th of December, 1861, the date at which 
the tension between the United States and Great Britain was 
at the breaking point, Mr. Adams thus expressed himself: "It 
ought to be remembered that the uniform tendency of our own 
policy has been to set up very high the doctrine of neutral 
rights, and to limit in every possible manner the odious doctrine 
of search. To have the two countries virtually changing their 
ground under this momentary temptation would not, as it 
seems to me, tend to benefit the position of the United States. 1 
Whereas, a contrary policy might be made the means of secur- 
ing a great concession of principle from Great Britain. Whether 
the government at home will remain cool enough to see its 
opportunity, I have no means of judging." And a few days 
later — December 7, 1861 — John Bright, writing to Charles 
Sumner, expressed himself to the same effect: "You may dis- 
appoint your enemies by the moderation and reasonableness of 
your conduct, and every honest and good man in England will 
applaud your wisdom. Put all the fire-eaters in the wrong, 
and Europe will admire the sagacity of your Government." 
"Sagacity of your Government!" That phrase expressed ex- 
actly what the situation called for, and got only in a very mod- 
ified degree. 

1 The timidity and hesitation with which Americans then advanced, for it 
cannot be said they really advocated, the traditional American policy, are fairly 
matter of surprise. For instance, in a letter to the London Times, printed in its 
issue of December 14, — a letter which Mr. Adams criticised at the time as 
being "a little too smooth and deprecating," — Mr. Thurlow Weed thus cautiously 
referred to the law as laid down by Lord Stowell: "Were I at all qualified to enter 
into the legal argument I should be inclined to accept your view of the question, 
to wit, that time and circumstances have so far changed the practice, reformed 
the principles of international maritime law as to render the earlier precedents 
and authorities largely inapplicable to existing cases." Memoir of Thurlow Weed, 
H. 354. 

1 9 i i.] THE TRENT AFFAIR. 7 1 

Taken immediately and openly in the presence of the whole 
world, the position advised by Blair would have indicated the 
supreme confidence we felt in our national power, and the pro- 
nounced contempt in which we held both those whom we called 
"rebels" and those whom they termed their " envoys. " If 
reached and publicly announced after mature deliberation 
during the week which followed the announcement of the 
seizure from Fortress Monroe (November 23), as trans-Atlantic 
communication was conducted in those days the news would 
scarcely have reached England before the 3d of December, 
just three days after the peremptory and somewhat offensive 
despatch of Earl Russell demanding the immediate surrender 
of the arrested envoys was beyond recall or modification, well 
on its way to America. A situation would have resulted 
almost ludicrous so far as Great Britain was concerned, but, 
for the United States, most consistent, dignified and im- 
posing. Excited, angry, arrogant, bent on reparation or 
war, Great Britain would have been let down suddenly, 
and very hard and flat. Its posture would, to say the least, 
have been the reverse of impressive. But for us it would 
have established our prestige in the eyes of foreign nations, 
and once for all silenced the numerous emissaries who were 
sedulously working in every part of Europe to bring about our 
undoing through foreign interference. In particular, the 
immediate delivery of the envoys, in advance of any demand 
therefor and on the very ship which had undertaken to exer- 
cise the right of search and seizure under the command of the 
officer who had thus exceeded his authority and functions, 
would, so to speak, have put the Government of Great Britain 
thenceforth under bonds, so far as the United States was 
concerned. Thereafter any effort, either of the " envoys" 
thus contemptuously surrendered or of other Confederate 
emissaries, would, so far as this country was concerned, have 
been futile. Reciprocity would from that moment have been 
in order, and all question of foreign recognition would have 
ceased. The whole course of international events in the imme- 
diate future would probably have been far different from what 
it was; for with what measure we had used, it would neces- 
sarily have been measured to us again. 

Such a line of conduct immediately decided on and boldly 


declared would have been an inspiration worthy of a Cavour 
or a Bismarck; but, though actually urged in the Cabinet 
meetings by Montgomery Blair, its adoption called for a grasp 
of the situation and a quickness of decision which, very pos- 
sibly, could not reasonably be expected under conditions then 
existing. It also may even yet be urged that, if then taken and 
announced, such a policy would have failed to command the 
assent of an excited public opinion. That it would have failed 
to do so is, however, open to question; for it is more than 
possible, it is even probable, that American intelligence would 
even then have risen at once to the international possibilities 
presented, and in that crisis of stress and anxiety would have 
measured the extent to which the "affair" could be improved 
to the public advantage. The national vanity would unques- 
tionably have been flattered by an adherence so consistent 
and sacrificing to the contentions and policies of the past. 
The memories of 1812 would have revived. However, admit- 
ting that a policy of this character, now obviously that which 
should have been pursued, was under practical and popular 
conditions then prevailing at least inadvisable, it remains to 
consider yet another alternative. 

Assuming that the course pursued remained unchanged an 
entire month after the seizure, and up to the 12th of December, 
when the news arrived in America of the excitement occasioned 
by the seizure in Great Britain and the extreme seriousness 
of the situation resulting therefrom, — assuming this, it is 
now obvious that the proper policy then and under such con- 
ditions to have been adopted, although it could not have 
produced the results which would have been produced by the 
policy just considered if adopted and announced ten days 
earlier, would still have been consistent and dignified, and, as 
such, would have commanded general respect. It was very 
clearly outlined by Mr. Adams in a letter written to Cassius 
M. Clay, then the representative of the country at St. Peters- 
burg, in the following month. He expressed himself as follows: 
— " Whatever opinion I may have of the consistency of Great 
Britain, or of the temper in which she has prosecuted her 
latest convictions, that does not in my judgment weigh a 
feather in the balance against the settled policy of the United 
States which has uniformly condemned every and any act 

191 1.] THE TRENT AFFAIR. 73 

like that of Captain Wilkes when authorized by other nations. 
The extension of the rights of neutrals on the ocean and the 
protection of them against the arbitrary exercise of mere 
power have been cardinal principles in the system of American 
statesmen ever since the foundation of the Government. It 
is not for us to abandon them under the transient impulse 
given by the capture of a couple of unworthy traitors. What 
are they that a country like ours should swerve one hair from 
the line of its ancient policy, merely for the satisfaction of 
punishing them? " 

If the advisers of Mr. Lincoln had viewed the situation in 
this light, when his Secretary of State sat down to prepare 
his answer to the English demand he would at once with a 
bold sweep of the hand have dismissed as rubbish the English 
precedents and authorities, reverting to the attitude and con- 
tentions uniformly and consistently held by the Government 
for which he spoke, during the earlier years of the century. 
The proceeding of Captain Wilkes would then have been pro- 
nounced inconsistent with the traditions and established policy 
of the United States, and the line of action by it to be pursued 
in the case immediately presented would have been dictated 
thereby. The course to be pursued on the issue raised was 
clear, and the surrender of the envoys must be ordered accord- 
ingly; — and this in no degree because of their small impor- 
tance, as suggested by Lord Palmerston in his talk with Mr. 
Adams — though unquestionably the fact would have secretly 
exercised no little influence on the mind of the Secretary — 
and still less was it ordered because of any failure of Captain 
Wilkes to seize the Trent as prize on the ground of alleged 
breach of neutrality: but exclusively for the reason that the 
seizure in question was unauthorized, in direct disregard of 
the established policy of the United States and its contentions 
in regard to the rights of neutrals, clearly and repeatedly 
set forth in many previous controversies with the Government 
represented by Earl Russell. From that policy, to quote the 
language of Mr. Adams, "this country was not disposed to 
swerve by a single hair's breadth." In accordance with it, 
delivery of the so-called "envoys" was ordered. 

Again, an opportunity was lost! Such an attitude would 
have been dignified, consistent and statesmanlike. It would 



have had in it no element of adroitness and no appearance 
of special pleading. It could hardly have failed immediately 
to commend itself to the good judgment as well as pride of 
the American people, and it would certainly have commanded 
the respect of foreign nations. 

Of the elaborate, and in many respects memorable, despatch 
addressed by Secretary Seward to Lord Lyons, in answer to 
the categorical demand for the immediate release of the two 
envoys, 1 it is not necessary here to speak in detail. It is his- 
torical, and my paper has already extended far .beyond the 
limits originally proposed. Of this state paper I will therefore 
merely say that, reading it now, "clever," not " great," is the 
term which suggests itself as best descriptive. Much commended 
at the time, it has not stood the test. 2 In composing it, the 

1 In his official despatch conceding the surrender of the envoys, Mr. Seward 
observed that the British claim for reparation was not made "in a discourteous 
manner." A later writer, however, has referred to the "indecent haste and 
manifest unfairness of the whole proceeding, as well as the bombast and implied 
threats" contained in Lord Russell's letters to Lord Lyons. Without going into 
details on this subject, it may however be observed that, so far as the United 
States is concerned, the despatch in question, as respects either language or per- 
emptoriness of tone, would compare not unfavorably with the subsequent atti- 
tude and utterances of our spokesmen in the case of the difficulty of this country 
with Chili, as set forth in President Harrison's message of January 12, 1892, anent, 
the assault on American sailors in Valparaiso; or with those of President Cleve- 
land as embodied in the memorable Venezuela message directed at Great Britain, 
December 17, 1895; or with those of President McKinley in his message of April 
11, 1898, communicating his ultimatum preceding the war with Spain; or with 
the course adopted by President Roosevelt in February, 1904, towards the United 
States of Colombia, as respects the independent Republic of Panama proclaimed 
as per arrangement the day previous by a band of trembling conspirators. To 
the record in all these cases it is unnecessary in this connection more particularly 
to refer. 

2 A far harsher criticism must, however, be passed on the memorandum of 
Secretary Chase, read at the Cabinet meeting of December 26, 1861, and printed 
in Warden, Private Life and Public Letters of Salmon P. Chase, 393, 394. It was 
distinctly childish; for Mr. Chase then said of Captain Wilkes' act: — "How- 
ever excused or even justified by motives, the act of removing [Messrs. Mason 
and Slidell] as prisoners from the Trent, without resort to any judicial cognizance, 
was in itself indefensible. We could not deny this without denying our history. 
Were the circumstances reversed, our government would, Mr. Chase thought, 
accept the explanation, and let England keep her rebels; and he could not divest 
himself of the belief that, were the case fairly understood, the British government 
would do likewise. ... It is gall and wormwood to me. Rather than consent 
to the liberation of these men, I would sacrifice everything I possess." It is 
hardly necessary to observe that it has not been the practice of either Great 
Britain or the United States to yield up political refugees, or "rebels" asking 


writer plainly had his eye on the audience; while his ear, so to 
speak, was in manifest proximity with the ground. Indeed, 
his vision was directed to so many different quarters, and his 
ear was intent on such a confusion of rumblings that it is fair 
matter for surprise that he acquitted himself even as success- 
fully as he did. In the first place, it was necessary for him to 
persuade a President who had " put his foot down," and whose 
wishes inclined to a quite different disposition of the matter. 
In the next place, the reluctant members of a divided Cabinet 
were to be conciliated and unified. After this, Captain Wilkes, 
the naval idol of the day, must be justified and supported. 
Then Congress, with its recent commitments as respects ap- 
proval, thanks, gold medals, etc., had to be not only pacified, 
but reconciled to the inevitable; and, finally, an aroused and 
patriotic public opinion was to be soothed and gently led into 
a lamb-like acquiescence. The situation in the aspect it then 
bore, was, it cannot be denied, both complicated and delicate. 
Accordingly, one is conscious, in reading the Secretary's com- 
munication to Lord Lyons of December 26, 1861, of a distinct 
absence therein of both grasp and elevation; and it can hardly 
be denied that there was truth in the criticisms passed upon it 
by Hamilton Fish, in a letter to Charles Sumner, written at the 
time. Mr. Fish, then in retirement, not impossibly entertained 
feelings of a nature not altogether friendly towards Mr. Seward, 
whose colleague he had been in the Senate, and whom later he 
was to succeed in charge of the Department of State. They 
were both from New York, and had been contemporaneously 
active in New York politics. Those also whose attention has 
been called to the grounds of comparison will, perhaps, hardly 
be disposed to deny that for natural grasp of the spirit and 
underlying principles of international law, Hamilton Fish was 
better endowed than either Seward or Sumner. Fish now wrote : 
— "In style [the letter] is verbose and egotistical; in argument, 
flimsy; and in its conception and general scope it is an aban- 
donment of the high position we have occupied as a nation upon 
a great principle. We are humbled and disgraced, not by the 

right of asylum, on the demand of any Government claiming their allegiance, to 
" keep her rebels." The Koszta case is here distinctly in point. Secretary Chase 
appears when writing this memorandum to have been somewhat oblivious of that 


act of the surrender of four of our own citizens, but by the 
manner in which it has been done, and the absence of a sound 
principle upon which to rest and justify it. . . . We might and 
should have turned the affair vastly to our credit and advan- 
tage; it has been made the means of our humiliation." 

The ultimate historical verdict must apparently be in accord- 
ance with the criticism here contemporaneously expressed. 
The Seward letter was inadequate to the occasion. A pos- 
sible move of unsurpassed brilliancy on the international 
chessboard had, almost unseen, been permitted to escape us. 

Everett to Adams. 1 

Boston, 20 August, 1861. 

My dear Sir, — I had great pleasure in receiving your letter of 
the 26th July, and in your favorable opinion of my oration, which 
has also been kindly spoken of here. 2 

You informed me some time ago that Lord John — no longer 
Lord John 3 — had read you a part of my letter to him of the 29th of 
May. I have thought you might like to see his answer, of which I 
accordingly send you a copy. I also venture to place under cover to 
you my reply to him, unsealed, should you be inclined to read it. 
You will be pleased before sending it, to seal it with some indifferent 

I do not think I can add anything, as to the progress of the war, 
beyond what the papers will tell you. The Secretary of the Treas- 
ury has made satisfactory arrangements for the great loan. The 
Boston banks take at once ten millions. Some significant remarks 
were made at a meeting of the Presidents of our Banks, by Mr. Wm. 
Gray, to the effect that the country desires a united and efficient 
cabinet; and Mr. Gray, W. T. Andrews and another gentleman were 
chosen a committee to make this suggestion formally to the President. 
It was supposed to be aimed at General Cameron and Mr. Welles. 

A rather unpleasant impression was produced on the public mind 
yesterday, by the call of the Secretary of War, to have all the volun- 
teers, accepted either by the Department or the State Governments, 
hastened on to Washington, with or without equipments and arms. 

1 From the Adams mss. 

2 Probably the address on "The Questions of the Day," delivered in New 
York, July 4, 1861, and printed in Orations and Speeches, iv. 345. 

3 Lord John Russell had been raised to the peerage, as Earl Russell, in July, 
1861, the preceding month. 

jgil.] THE TRENT AFFAIR, NOVEMBER, 1861. 77 

We are so unaccustomed to war, that every little incident, and 
especially every reverse tells upon the public mind, far beyond its 
importance, and the pulse of the community rises and falls, like the 
mercury in the thermometer. 

Our newspapers are filled with the absurdest suggestions, about 
the unfriendly interference of England and France. But I am con- 
fident, that before the next crops of cotton and tobacco are ready for 
shipment, the Southern Ports will be so effectually blockaded, as 
to put any such interference out of the question. . . . 

Edward Everett. 

Lord John Russell to Everett. 

Pembroke Lodge, July 12, 1861. 

My dear Mr. Everett, — I have hitherto delayed answering your 
letter of the 28th of May, in hopes that a better feeling, and I must 
say a juster feeling towards us might spring up in the United States. 
I am not sure that this is the case, but I am told there has been a 
lull. In the interval before a fresh storm arises, I will write a few 
lines as to our position. 

I shall say little as to yours; I respect the unanimous feeling of the 
North, and still more the resolution not to permit the extension of 
Slavery which led to the election of President Lincoln. But with 
regard to our own course, I must say something more. There were 
according to your account 8 millions of freemen in the Slave States. 
Of these millions upwards of five have been for sometime in open 
revolt against the President and Congress of the United States. It 
is not our practice to treat five millions of freemen as pirates, and to 
hang their sailors if they stop our merchantmen. But unless we 
meant to treat them as pirates and to hang them we could not deny 
them belligerent rights. This is what you and we did in the case of 
the South American Colonies of Spain. Your own President and 
Courts of Law decided this question in the case of Venezuela. 

Your press has studiously confused the case by calling the allow- 
ance of belligerent rights by the name of recognition. But you must 
well know the difference. 

It seems to me however that you have expected us to discourage 
the South. How this was to be done, except by waging war against 
them I am at a loss to imagine. 

I must confess likewise that I can see no good likely to arise from 
the present contest. If on the 4th of March you had allowed the 
Confederate States to go out from among you, you could have pre- 


vented the extension of Slavery and confined it to the slaveholding 
States. But if I understand your Constitution aright you cannot 
do more in case of successful war, if you have to adhere to its pro- 
visions and to keep faith with those states and parts of states where 
slavery still exists which have not quitted the Union. 

I regret the Morrill Tariff and hope it will be repealed. But the 
exclusion of our manufactures from your markets was surely an odd 
way of conciliating our good will. 

I thank you for your condolence on the death of my brother. It 
is a grievous loss to me, after half a century of brotherly affection. 
I remain, Yours faithfully, 

J. Russell. 

Everett to Adams. 

Boston, 29 October, 1861. 

My dear Mr. Adams, — I had much pleasure in receiving yours of 
the 5 th of October by the last steamer. The fair prospect, to which 
you allude, as produced by the prosperous turn of things here, is a 
little clouded by the news, which this steamer will carry to you of 
another reverse to our arms near Leesburg. It seems to have been 
a sad blundering piece of business. There is a general willingness to 
lay the blame on poor Colonel Baker. Les morts 1 aussi Men que les 
absens, ont toujours tort. 

The great naval expedition has sailed from Fortress Monroe. Its 
success, if it fully succeeds, will be all important, — and its failure 
proportionately disastrous. 

Mr. de Stoeckel sat half an hour with me today. He talked in 
the sense of Prince Gortschakoff's letter; but rather gloomily of our 
cause. He distrusts the ability of McClellan to handle the large 
army under his command, and thinks General Scott, tho' his facul- 
ties are unimpaired, pretty nearly "used up"; — I am sorry to use 
that cant phrase of the noble old chief. Stoeckel says that France 
and England have intimated to our Government, that the domestic 
interests of their subjects absolutely require, that the supply of 
cotton should not be much longer obstructed, and that if the present 
state of things continues, they shall be compelled, with great reluc- 
tance, to take measures for the relief of their subjects, who, according 
to Stoeckel, will otherwise starve or rebel; and of course the latter. 
He says he knows these intimations have been made. 

I read to Stoeckel a part of your letter, — not of course that which 
you wrote in confidence. He said, a propos of the European Compli- 
cations, that Prince Gortschakoff wrote him that they were numerous 
and grave; that Russia could not prevent their existence, but thus 


far had been able to prevent their leading to war; and that as this 
season had passed without a rupture, and Winter was at hand, 
Peace was sure to be preserved, at least till next year. Baron 
Brunnow writes to Stoeckel, that John Bull affects to weep from 
Empathy, when brother Jonathan cries with the tooth-ache, but 
chuckles in his sleeve, as poor Jonathan's teeth, with which he is 
accustomed to bite so hard, are pulled out by his own doctors. Mr. 
Seward has requested me to come to Washington to confer on 
some public business (he does not say what) and I shall start on 
Wednesday. . . . 

Edward Everett. 

Everett to Adams. 1 

Boston, 9 November, 1861. 

My dear Mr. Adams, — I have to thank you for your two very 
valuable letters of the 5th and 25th of October. I write a little in 
advance of the sailing of the steamer, as I shall be much engaged 
next week. . . . 

I do not attempt to send you any intelligence, as the steamer will 
bring you 4 days later dates, and especially will probably bring some 
important information about the great naval expedition. It was 
the impression at Washington, that it had escaped the fury of the 
gale of the 2d, and what little information we have is to that effect. 

We have had another atrocious military blunder at Ball's Bluff. 
As usual nobody is to blame, and nobody is responsible. The fault 
is generally ascribed to Colonel Baker, he being dead. Our Massa- 
chusetts young men appear to have behaved nobly, but it is almost 
maddening to see these precious young lives thrown away, and the 
great cause endangered by these constantly recurring blunders. 

What I said of Mr. Seward's too belligerent propensities was 
founded a good deal on Mr. Sumner's statements. I made allowance 
for the evidently unfriendly tone, in which they were made, but I 
would not have supposed them so exaggerated, as I now incline to 
think them. They were in part confirmed by a Captain Taylor, late 
of the British army, — who brought me 2 or 3 years ago a letter from 
his uncle, the late Archbishop of York, — who told me that Mr. 
Seward had said to Russell, the correspondent of the "Times," 
that he was willing to go to war with England and France to-morrow, 
and that on his (Taylor's) repeating this to Lord Lyons, Lord Lyons 
replied, "I can believe it; he has said much the same to me," adding 
"he treats me so, I can't go to the department." All this, however, 

1 From the Adams mss. 


cannot be true, if any of it is. Mr. Seward told me his personal rela- 
tions with Lord L. were perfectly friendly. I saw a letter of the 
Duke of Argyll to Mr. Sumner, expressing lively fears that Mr. 
Seward was driving the country into a war; 1 this was some three 
months ago; and Dean Milman, in a letter to me of the 16th 
October, speaks of Mr. Seward's having threatened an invasion 
of Canada. 

Please let me know, if you can, the author of the article on our 
affairs in the last number of the Edinburgh Review, — that for 

Mr. Seward has requested me, as he has Thurlow Weed, Arch- 
bishop Hughes, J. P. Kennedy, Bishop Mcllvaine, and R. C. Win- 
throp, to go to England and France, for two or three months unoffi- 
cially and as volunteers, to endeavor, through social channels, to 
counteract the influence of the Secessionists, who are said to be 
swarming at London and Paris and producing an effect on public 
opinion. I see many objections to going, — the vagueness of the 
errand, the strangeness of the grouping (which however is of less 
consequence, as there is no official character to be kept up and con- 
sequently no joint action necessary, nor probably expedient), the 
wintry voyage, some twenty-five or thirty engagements to speak — 
and now the attention, which it may be necessary to give to my son's 
affairs, which may indeed prove to me an insuperable barrier. I 
will add also, in entire sincerity, that I believe, from all I know and 
all I hear, not only that the official duties of the American minister 
are performed by you in a manner which leaves nothing to desire, but 
that whatever can be effected through social influences is accomplished 
with equal skill and success. I am not quite sure, that it would be 
wise, to send out half a dozen volunteers when the regular service is so 

I wish you would, with entire unreserve, give me your opinion of 
the matter, by which, if I am able to come (which is quite doubtful), 
I should be much governed. I learn today from Washington, much 
to my satisfaction, that Mr. Seward consents to postpone for some 
time — perhaps indefinitely — further action in this matter. 

You will not suppose for a moment that I imagine Mr. Seward to 
labor under the impression, that your hands need strengthening. 
But he seems to think something can be done by purely unofficial 
influences, in social intercourse by private travellers, in which capac- 
ity only the persons named are to go abroad. 

The whole movement was to be confidential, but it is already in 
the papers, I know not through what means. 

1 Pierce, Memoir and Letters of Charles Sumner, iv. 31, 

191 1.] THE TRENT AEFAIR, NOVEMBER, l86l. 8 1 

I have written too long a letter already, but having half a page 
left, I will add, that, while in Washington the other day, I had a 
long and interesting conversation with M. Mercier, the purport of 
which was that France suffered so much by the present state of 
things in this country, that she would be compelled, in self-defence, 
to take measures of relief. I asked him what measures, and he an- 
swered " Recognition of the Confederacy." I told him that of itself, 
though it would give great moral aid to the South, would not help 
France. He admitted this and said in substance they must break 
the blockade. I replied, "this would be war with the U. S." He did 
not deny this, but seemed to think, on the near and certain approach 
of such a result, we should give way. I told him he could not be in 
earnest in thinking his government would go to war with a friendly 
power merely to promote domestic interests. He said necessity knew 
no law. I believe substantially the same language is held by him 
officially. I think it is intended to frighten us into yielding, and 
told him so. But that he disclaimed. Stoeckel told me Louis 
Napoleon was thoroughly frightened, at the fear of a general emeute. 
You will put your own interpretation on all this. Valeat quantum. 
As ever, sincerely yours 

E. E. 

P. S. The N. Y. Herald says "Mr. Adams is the right man in 
the right place." If the Herald commends you, you will begin to 
read the first clause of Luke vi, 26, with some anxiety. 1 

Winthrop to Kennedy. 2 

Boston, 18 November, 1861. 

I wrote Seward some days ago that you had encouraged me to 
think there was less urgency for any of us to go abroad, and that I 
was indisposed to go for domestic reasons. But who needs to go, 
after your glorious Maryland Election, and the success of the Port 
Royal Expedition! And now comes the climax, — Mason and Slidell 
caught and brought back! When I presented you and Mason to the 
multitude at Bunker Hill, how little he thought the name of Warren 
would have such associations for him — the Statue and the Fort! 3 

1 "Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers 
to the false prophets." 

2 From the Winthrop MSS. 

3 On June 17, 1857, the Bunker Hill Monument Association dedicated the 
statue to Joseph Warren, and among the speakers on the occasion were James M. 



His tone was insolent enough on that occasion, yet I will not triumph 
over him now. To think of Mason, Slidell, and Gwin, and still more 
of Morehead and Faulkner, and your friends Brown and Wallis, 
confined in the casements of an Island Fortress, away from home and 
friends, and subject to the punishment of Traitors, fills me with 
horror. Yet I know not what else the Government could do with 
some of them, tho' I am afraid Faulkner and Morehead have been 
dealt with too summarily. I sent down some Sherry a fortnight ago, 
and offered to go myself, but the officer said I could speak to none of 
them; I told him of your interest in your friends. 1 I also helped to get 
great coats, to prevent the North-Carolina soldiers from freezing. 
Are we to have war with England? A war of words we certainly 
shall have. Seward's recent letters and proclamations have greatly 
irritated the English mind, and I hope he will be prudent in his 
management of this arrest case. It gives undoubted cause for com- 
plaint, and the complaint ought not to be met with defiance. Proper 
explanations, in a civil way, will save a world of trouble. . . . 

Robert C. Winthrop. 

Dana to Adams. 2 

Boston, Nov. 25, 1861. 

My dear Mr. Adams, — Allow me to submit to your considera- 
tion a few words from the D[aily] Advertiser which I sent, on the 
Mason-Slidell question. 

I hope you now feel better about the news. Wilkes has done a 
noble thing, and done it well. It has, with all its elements of poetic 
justice, struck a chord in the public heart that only a great victory 
could have struck. 

The Port Royal affair was also well done. There appears to be a 
healthier feeling everywhere, since these two events. 

The military congregations are gradually crystallizing into armies. 
Even Ball's Bluff has rather helped us than hurt us, in our own 
esteem, as our men behaved admirably and were overpowered by 
numbers. Our force was, all told, short of 1800. Gen. Evans 
admits a " regular force " of 2700. All told, he had nearer 4500. 
But, why do we blunder into such positions? West Virginia and 
Kentucky do better. No military men blame Gen. Stone. His plan 

Mason and John P. Kennedy. A full account of the celebration was published 
by the Association in 1858. 

1 See p. 89 n, infra. 

2 From the Adams mss. Printed, in part, in Adams, Richard Henry Dana, 
n. 259. 

1 91 1.] THE TRENT AFFAIR, NOVEMBER, 1 86 1. 83 

was good and his orders right. The repulse was owing to an error 
or neglect of Baker's, or was inevitable. 

Your speech at the Lord Mayor's dinner has given much satis- 
faction here as in England. 1 I congratulate you upon it. 

Sumner's speech is a magnificent exposition (I mean his late 
speech, since October 1) of the sin and horrors of slavery and its 
ill effect on all our politics, causing and sustaining this rebellion, 
etc., etc. 2 But so far as a policy, measures, — a principle of action 
is concerned, it is vague. He seems to assume that if our twenty 
millions can be made to hate slaveholders and slavery badly enough, 
and to believe that they can hit 'em hard, all the rest will take 
care of itself. If the steam is got up to the highest, and the boat 
headed into them, all else is immaterial. I cannot agree to that. 
Under the war power we can do what is (1) necessary for the purposes 
of the war, (2) justified by humanity, good sense, and the consent of 
Christendom. I know no other limits. But Sumner makes the aboli- 
tion of slavery by force the moral justification and end of the war. 
The war is a means. He preaches a holy crusade. But we cannot 
justify war on the domestic institutions of the Southern States, as an 
end and object. We must not propagate even Christianity by the 
sword. The war must be to sustain the Constitution, and prevent 
the establishment of an independent nation in our limits; or, if we 
admit the Union and Constitution to be at an end as matter of 
law and of fact, then we can justify it only on the ground of an im- 
perial and paramount necessity to establish one govt, over the old 
limits, wholly, or so far as we choose, taking the responsibility for the 
negroes on ourselves. The difficulty with Sumner is this. He has 
had great difficulty in justifying a support of the Constitution with 
its slave clauses. He has great difficulty in justifying war on any 
terms. But to justify war, in order to sustain the Constitution 
that itself needs justification, is too much for him. He relieves 
his conscience by preaching this to be a holy crusade to abolish 

Pardon my long discourse, and believe me with great respect, 
Yours truly, 

Richard H. Dana, Jr. 

1 May 10. The speech is printed in the Boston Daily Advertiser, November 
25, 1861. On the oth the two Confederate Commissioners, William L. Yancey 
and A. Dudley Mann, had dined with the Fishmongers Company of London. 
Yancey's speech will be found in the same journal, November 26. 

2 In Sumner's Works, vi. 7, 71, are printed his speech of October 1, before the 
Republican State Convention at Worcester, Massachusetts, and "The Rebellion," 
delivered on November 25, as below (p. 90 w). The reference is probably to 
the former. 



The Case oe Messrs. Mason and Slidell. 1 

We desire to call the attention of our readers to the following 
communication, upon the legal aspect of the seizure of Mason and 
Slidell, coming to us from a source which entitles it to weight: — 

To the Editors of the Boston Daily Advertiser: 

The case of Messrs. Mason and Slidell is usually treated as if it 
were one of embassadors. But it is a far stronger case for the United 

The very question of this war is, whether an independent nation 
shall be set up within the limits of the United States. To attempt 
that by force of arms is treason against our Government, and an 
act of war within the law of nations. To assume the character of 
an embassador from such a power, while the war is raging, is an act 
of hostility. If any foreign nation should acknowledge the insur- 
gents as a nation, and receive their embassadors and make treaties 
with them, such acts, in the present posture of the war, would be 
acts of hostility to the United States, of the highest character. 

The insurgents are attempting to set up such an independent 
sovereignty within our limits, to obtain its recognition by foreign 
powers, and to make treaties with those powers, injurious to us 
and beneficial to the insurgents. Messrs. Mason and Slidell were 
bound on that very errand, to the courts of Europe. 

Now, the embassador of a recognized nation, bound to a distant 
court, in the regular course of routine, with nothing unusual attend- 
ing his case, if his nation be at war, is treated by the law of nations 
as an emissary hostile to the enemies of his country, from the nature 
of his office. It is always his duty, and may be within his power, to 
make his mission useful to his country and injurious to its enemy. 
If a neutral vessel is asked to take him and his despatches on their 
way, to give effect to their mission by transporting them, the neutral 
cannot know or learn whether and how far the mission may be 
hostile. He must not intervene. 

But, in the present case, the mission is, in its very nature, neces- 
sarily and solely, a mission hostile to the United States. It is treason 
within our municipal law, and an act in the highest degree hostile, 
within the law of nations. If a neutral vessel intervenes to carry 
such persons, on such a mission, she commits an act hostile in the 
same degree. 

There are also circumstances of aggravation, not affecting the 

1 From the Boston Daily Advertiser, November 26, 1861. 


legal character of the offence, but adding to its degree of hostility. 
It was notorious that these emissaries could not be safely taken on 
their mission by vessels of their own country. To afford them the 
concealment and safeguard of a neutral flag, was giving them aid 
where it was most needed. But for unusual enterprize in getting 
information, and resolution in tbe performance of duty, the aid 
afforded would have given all the consummation to the objects of 
the enemy which they needed on the high seas. 

We rather look to see Mr. Seward or Mr. Adams call the immediate 
attention of Her Majesty's government to this violation of neu- 
trality, than to see Lord Lyons or Earl Russell addressing our 
government on the subject. 

Winthrop to Adams. 1 

Boston, 25 November, 1861. 

My dear Sir, — Your kind letter of October 10th was duly re- 
ceived. It was all the more welcome because I had not dreamed of 
putting you to the trouble of acknowledging my brief note of last 
summer. And I have delayed thanking you as soon as I should 
otherwise have done, lest I should seem to be involving you in the 
trouble of private correspondence, at a moment when more than 
all your time must be required for public business. Let me beg you, 
therefore, never to feel under the slightest obligation to reply to 
any little note of mine, unless there be some service which I can 
render you here, or until the return of peace shall have released you 
from the heavy anxieties and responsibilities which are now upon you. 

It has occurred to me that you may be glad to be reminded, in 
connection with the case of Henry Laurens which is everywhere cited 
as a precedent for the seizure of Mason and Slidell, that the present 
Lord Albemarle has, at this moment, at his seat in Norfolk (Quiden- 
ham) a portrait of Washington, intended for the Stadtholder, which 
was taken by Capt. Keppel from the same ship in which Laurens was 
captured. It is the portrait in which Washington is represented with 
that blue ribbon across the breast, which has given occasion to so 
many speculations. When I was in London two years ago, Lord 
Albemarle invited me to run down to Quidenham to see it, and I 
presume he does not doubt that it was lawful prize. I think he will 
be bound to surrender it to the Dutch, however, before going to war 
with us for seizing the Rebel Ambassadors. At any rate it is a 
pleasant little incident which may serve to illustrate the English 
precedents on this subject. The success of our naval expedition, 

1 From the Adams mss. 


and the evident " turning of the tide" in our favor at home, will do 
more than anything else in reconciling Great Britain to the course 
of Captain Wilkes; and, if McClellan gives us a great victory on 
the Potomac in a few days, we shall feel safe from any foreign 
molestation. . . . 

Had my duties to my children allowed me to leave home, I thought 
a little of accompanying Bishop Mcllvaine and Mr. Kennedy in a 
brief trip to Europe. But both Kennedy and myself have been 
obliged to abandon the idea. . . . 


Since finishing my note, I have read, with great gratification, your 
speech at the Mansion House, and congratulate you on its success. 

Palfrey to Adams. 1 
Boston, 5 Louisburg Square, November 25, 1861. 

My dear Mr. Adams, — Let me begin with congratulating you 
on your speech at the Lord Mayor's dinner, which has just reached 
us. We read that it was received with great satisfaction in England. 
Here the opinion undoubtedly is that it [is] very exceedingly oppor- 
tune and felicitous. Though we know but little as yet of the par- 
ticulars of your action, it is certain that the utmost confidence 
prevails that our affairs in England are in prudent and able hands. 

Before you receive this, it is likely that you will have been en- 
gaged with the affair of the mail-packet Trent. The jubilation over 
that adventure has been somewhat checked by apprehension of the 
effect which it may produce in England. But the citations which 
have been collected from the publicist authorities have, on the whole, 
dispelled anxiety, and those who are least sanguine as to the good 
temper of England on the occasion generally think that it forces 
her into the dilemma of either abstaining from complaint, or of 
desisting for the future from pretensions on her own part which have 
often caused us discontent. 2 

The town is wild with enthusiasm today about Wilkes's reception 
in Faneuil Hall. It has been storming, and I was not well enough for 

1 From the Adams mss. 

2 Perhaps the most noticeable contribution was the letter of Theophilus Par- 
sons, professor of law in Harvard Law School, printed in the Boston Daily Adver- 
tiser, November 29, 1861. As a legal question he concluded that "I am just as 
certain that Wilkes had a legal right to take Mason and Slidell from the Trent, 
as I am that our government has a legal right to blockade the port of Charles- 
ton." See also George T. Curtis in the Boston Journal, December 19, and Charles 
B. Goodrich in the Boston Courier, of the same date. 


a strife with the weather. So I had to content myself with leaving 
a card at the Revere House, — he having just gone to the Navy- 

There is so much comedy in this tragedy of Mason and Slidell 
that one cannot but fancy Lord Palmerston enjoying it hugely in his 
solitude, however loudly, for appearance' sake, he may feel called 
upon to bark. Whatever it may turn out to be in other aspects, it 
is one of those telling incidents that for the moment must provoke 
the merriment of the world. 

You must have been greatly refreshed and relieved by the intel- 
ligence of the descent on South Carolina. You know as well as we, 
that it has created consternation on one side, and revived confidence 
and resolution on the other. You can judge, better than most of us, 
what effect it is likely to have on the future course of events. Sher- 
man, the general, has been hitherto distinguished only as a first-rate 
field-officer of artillery. Whether he has the requisite qualities for a 
sphere so much wider, is still to be determined. But, as far as the 
present experiences have gone, he appears to deserve credit for pru- 
dence and conduct. . . . 

Vast numbers of people, who, but a little while ago, could not 
bring themselves to see that there was any moral or political harm 
in Slavery, are so changed that one would think they must wonder 
at themselves. Many of them have become altogether reasonable, 
and many of them not a little passionate against what lately they 
were caressing. " Seeing what we have seen, seeing what we see" 
there would be ample matter for amusement, if it did not rather 
inspire a very different mood of mind. . . . 

I think you have seen the worst of England and English life. I 
do not relinquish the idea that, on further experiment, you will like 
it better. When what there is now of mutual distrust between the 
two countries is done away, your own position will be more agree- 
able. An unavoidable consciousness of it, I fancy, at present, de- 
tracts from your individual enjoyment. 

November 26th. This morning we have President Davis's mes- 
sage. 1 It is very observable that he does not mention the invasion of 
South Carolina, and his references to the state of his finances and to 
the want of recognition from foreign powers, with the usual southern 
tone of bluster, have a distinct undertone of disappointment and 

The scheme of holding the Sea Islands, and producing their pre- 
cious staple by free black labor, is opening. . . . 

J. G. Palfrey. 

1 It was printed in the Boston Daily Advertiser, November 25, 1861. 


Adams to Everett. 1 

Fryston Hall, 27 November, 1861. 

You ask me my opinion of Mr. Seward's plan of operating on society 
here, and I will give it you frankly. It seems to me of no value, and 
based upon a very superficial notion of the influences that go to form 
opinion here. People of rank study the American question almost 
exclusively with reference to the questions that are agitating the 
nation at home. They are all more or less oppressed with a fear of 
the growth of democracy mainly through the success of the American 
example. And in my opinion this fear is not without very good cause. 
For under all the appearances of material prosperity which abound 
in this country, I think I perceive the seeds of change which will 
not fail to fructify on the first occasion of a turn in the wheel of for- 
tune. The rich are growing richer and are rapidly absorbing in few 
hands the whole landed property of the three kingdoms. The poor 
are deserting agriculture and flocking to the manufacturing towns, 
where they live from hand to mouth. But for the great outlet fur- 
nished by emigration to the Colonies this change alone would have 
endangered the social economy ere this. The slower and more cer- 
tain effect is behind — the growth of the consumers and the decline 
of the producers of bread. If Great Britain be now in terror for the 
want of the material with which to enable her working people to 
earn their bread, what will it be when circumstances render it diffi- 
cult to get the bread itself? It is this fear that agitates society and 
renders it so much alive to the American difficulties. If the ghost of 
democracy can be laid the gentry think 2 

London, Friday, 29th. 

The clouds have strangely gathered in the sky since this was 
written. I fully expect now that my recall or my passports will be 
in my hands by the middle of January. Please not to mention this 
as coming from me. Very truly yours, 

C. F. Adams. 

1 From the Adams mss. 

2 As the place of writing and date indicate, this letter was written at the 
home of Richard Monckton Milnes, in Yorkshire, where Mr. Adams was then a 
guest, and on the morning of the day upon which he, at a later hour, received 
news of the arrest of the Trent by Captain Wilkes, and the seizure of Mason 
and Slidell. Laying down his pen at this point to accompany his host and a 
party of guests in a visit to the ruins of Pontefract Castle, the closing paragraph 
of the letter was written in London, two days afterwards. 

191 1.] the trent affair, november, 1 86 1. 89 

Schuyler to Adams. 1 

Legation of the United States, 
Paris, November 29th, 1861. 

Dear Sir, — I shall be in London next Wednesday on my way 
to the United States, when I hope to see you. In the mean time if 
any complications arise which would bear upon shipments of arms 
from Havre or Hamburgh for the government, will you please 
inform Mr. Dayton of it, as I shall leave that matter to his discretion. 

We all here are full of interest for you in the difficult questions 
raised by recent events. 

It seems to me that with Great Britain we can justly claim the 
right of taking upon the high seas individuals charged with high 
treason, when they have never abandoned the right to claim under 
similar circumstances any man who is a British subject. 

Every confidence is felt in your management of the business. Very 
truly yours, 

George L. Schuyler. 

Winthrop to Kennedy. 2 

Boston, 29 November, 1861. 

Mason and Slidell continue in limbo — a just retribution for the 
leading part they have taken in plunging the Country into strife. 
England would have done the same thing under the same circum- 
stances, but I am afraid the bluster on our side will provoke it on 
hers. I wish I felt as well satisfied that Morehead 3 and Faulkner 4 
were imprisoned for good cause, as I do that Mason and Slidell are. 
A letter which Faulkner wrote our friend William Appleton, made us 
feel that his case was a hard one, and there is a story that his daughter 
is dying at Philadelphia, and that Morehead's wife has gone crazy. 
Meantime a miserable clamor has been raised by a few of our bitter 
spirits because some persons have sent down a few creature-comforts 
to alleviate the condition of old friends. One of our malignant 
presses calls us sympathizers in Rebellion and threatens to send our 
names to the Secretary of State! 5 I hope you will give Seward to 

1 From the Adams mss. 2 From the Winthrop mss. 

3 Charles Slaughter Morehead. 

4 Charles James Faulkner (1 806-1 884) was appointed minister to France by 
Buchanan, and was arrested on his return to the United States in August, 1861, 
and detained as a prisoner of state until December, when he was exchanged for 
Alfred Ely, member of Congress from New York, taken by the Confederates at 
Bull Run. 

6 See p. 94, infra. 



understand that a malicious spirit of misrepresentation prevails in 
this quarter, which vents itself upon everybody who is not ready 
to embark in an Abolition Crusade. For myself, I have done so 
little for the prisoners, that I almost feel a compunction at having 
seemed wanting in kindness. It is wretched policy not to treat 
them with humanity and consideration. I go for putting down the 
Rebellion with all my heart, and whatever is necessary for the safety 
of the Government must be done. But the fewer extreme cases are 
exhibited as we go along, the fewer regrets we shall have in the end. 
We have had rare doings in Boston this week. 1 Sumner led off with 
a violent Emancipation harangue. Ward Beecher followed, and 
Wendell Phillips came after. To-night "Jim Lane" of Kansas, 
takes his turn. Meantime, the Wilkes banquet betrayed some of 
our more moderate men into expressions which were by no means 
happy. I trust the President's Message will straighten things out, 
and sound a key which will bring back the press and the people to 
the true music of the Union. We are on the high-road to success, 
if the mischief-makers do not tear up the track. . . . 

Robert C. Winthrop. 

Motley to Adams. 2 

Legation of the United States of America 
at Vienna, 30 November, 1861. 

My dear Mr. Adams, — You must pardon me for trespassing a 
moment upon your time, but, indeed, it is absolutely necessary that 
I should know from the fountain head, exactly the state of the case. 
I therefore implore you to write me a note, however short, as soon as 
conveniently may be, telling me what you are going to do, — whether 
you are leaving at once, or whether, as probably is the case, you wait 
until the response comes from America to the English declaration of 
war; for I suppose it can be regarded in no other light. 

If I am making mistakes, you must ascribe it to the fact that I am 
only in possession of a brief telegram which reached me last night, 

1 Sumner's address was on "The Rebellion," and was delivered on Monday 
night, November 25, under the direction of the Fraternity Association. It is 
printed in his Works, vi. 71. Beecher spoke at the Tremont Temple on Tuesday, 
upon "Camp and Country." Phillips delivered a lecture at Music Hall, under 
the management of the Mercantile Library Association, taking for his subject 
"The War." In a revised form it is printed as "The War for the Union," in his 
Speeches and Lectures, 415. General Lane was on his way to take his seat in the 
Senate of the United States, and spoke at Tremont Temple. An outline was 
printed in the Boston Evening Transcript, November 30, 1861. 

2 From the Adams mss. 

I pi I.] THE TRENT AFFAIR, NOVEMBER, 1 86 1. 9 1 

dated yesterday, 29th. This purports to be an "official" statement 
in the Morning Post, that the " crown lawyers have decided the arrest 
of Mason and Slidell to be an invasion of international law, and an 
insult to England; and that the cabinet have resolved to demand 
satisfaction together with the release of the prisoners, an apology 
to them, and compensation." m 

I have not yet learned even the circumstances of the capture. I 
assume that the Trent is a merchant vessel, and that the arrest was 
upon the high seas. If these suppositions are correct, I take it that 
the idea of the action's being contrary to international law, cannot 
be entertained by our government. The English jurisdiction over 
its merchant vessels is of course only municipal, not territorial, and 
extends only to its own subjects, not to ours. The high seas are not 
English territory, nor is a merchant vessel of England navigating 
them, a portion of English territory. The law of nations governs 
on the sea, and that law justifies a belligerent in dealing with his 
enemy where he can catch him, except on neutral ground. 

I beg your pardon for troubling you with what is at your fingers' 
ends. We know too well how often English cruisers in time of war 
have boarded our merchant men and taken out her subjects, even 
when they were our naturalized citizens, and that she has never 
renounced that right. 

She has now thrown off the mask, and espoused openly the cause 
of the. slaveholders. I am at least grateful to her, that she has put 
the issue so neatly, that there can be but one voice in America on 
the subject. She goes to war with us as the champion of Mason and 
Slidell, the two leaders of the slaveholders' rebellion — and all the 
sophistry of her judges, or brutality of her speakers and publicists 
cannot hide that plain fact. 

She will damage us horribly, and hopes she has found the op- 
portunity utterly to crush a hated rival; but I think she will find 
more resistance than she expects. Her first blows will be tremendous. 
When I left, there was n't a gun to defend Boston harbor, and I 
suppose orders will be sent to her fleets to pitch in at once — so that 
we are all about ruined. I really wish you would let me have a 
brief statement of the facts, as I am in a most mortifying position, 
if I don't know all that is to be known. 

Am I right in my assumptions as to the facts of the arrest? 

Am I right in assuming that the demand of England will be met 
by the peremptory refusal of our government? 

Will there be any delay in the hostilities or will they commence 
at once? 

After all, you are in a better position than any of us. You can 


go home. We must stay, and never receive a letter from home, per- 
haps for years, and not know what is the fate of our nearest friends 
and relatives. Moreover, in case of the most stringent blockade 
which doubtless will be put on our ports, it will be almost impossible 
for us to obtain funds from America, even to support life. 

I shall never regret that I have been completely duped by the 
English. I believed their statesmen governed by a high sense of 
honor and justice, and almost alone among Americans, I have been 
defending them every day. I never could have suspected them of 
such perfidy and brutality. 

This conduct, if the facts be as I suppose, is one of the most in- 
famous crimes that history has ever recorded. England stands up 
before the world, the champion of the slaveholders, in order to crush 
a nation which was at peace with her. I hope, at any rate, that our 
government will no longer hesitate to proclaim a general emancipa- 
tion. It may be a brutum fulmen, but that is not so certain — and 
at any rate, it will serve still more to unmask the treachery and 
villainy of England. 

Once more I pray you to let me have a line from you, that I may 
know exactly how the case stands. . . . 

J. L. Motley. 

Adams to Motley. 1 

Legation of the United States, 
London, 4 December, 1861. 

My dear Sir, — I am here quietly waiting the development of 
events over which I have no control, and in which I had no partici- 
pation. Down to the moment of the outbreak about the Trent I 
had been flattering myself that things were getting better here rather 
than worse, and that I was gradually gaining upon the confidence 
of the Government. But in critical times the mistake of a naval 
Officer may in a moment overturn the firmest superstructure. It 
was so in former times and it has proved so now. That Captain 

1 From the Adams mss. On December 3, J. D. Coleridge wrote from London 
to Ellis Yarnall: " I must unlearn Lord Stowell, and burn Wheaton, if there is 
one word of defence for the American Lieutenant [Wilkes]. . . . Here, however, 
I think the feeling is more unanimous than ever I recollect it — of .earnest de- 
sire to avoid war if it may be with honour — of resolution to fight to our last 
man, to spend our last shilling, sooner than submit to an utterly unprovoked 
outrage." YarnalPs reply, dated December 24, before the decision to surrender 
Mason and Slidell, is in Forty Years of Friendship (Coleridge- Yarnall Corre- 
spondence), 85. 


Wilkes acted solely on his own responsibility I have not a shadow 
of doubt. That on the basis of every English construction of the 
law of nations, as well as of its uniform practice the act may be de- 
fended, is equally clear to me. On the other hand, however, it ought 
to be remembered that the uniform tendency of our own policy has 
been to set up very high the doctrine of neutral rights, and to limit 
in every possible manner the odious doctrine of search. To have the 
two countries virtually changing their ground under this momentary 
temptation, would not, as it seems to me, tend to benefit the posi- 
tion of the United States. Whereas a contrary policy might be 
made the means of securing a great concession of principle from Great 
Britain. Whether the Government at home will remain cool enough 
to see its opportunity I have no means of judging. I am making 
my arrangements on the expectation of an opposite course. If I 
remain here after New Year I shall be surprised. Nor yet do I feel 
as if I wanted very much to stay. The best thing for the two coun- 
tries would be a stoppage of relations for a short time without 
actual war. As it is you may well imagine that my situation will 
not be likely to grow pleasanter. Though personally people treat 
me well, and Government professes to be fully satisfied, it is by no 
means agreeable to be made an exception of. The distinction might 
be thought to imply a good deal more of subserviency than I am 
disposed to earn a character for. My countrymen may be sometimes 
wrong, but in their relations with the mother country from first to 
last I honestly believe that their record will stand before posterity 
by far the best. Neither will that portion of it which has been made 
up since these latest troubles began tend in my opinion to change 
the character of the verdict. Its principal characteristic on the side 
of England is intense egoism and short-sighted nationality. Its 
type is the Minister who guides its policy. Had the view been more 
expanded, had the mind of Great Britain addressed itself to the recog- 
nition of great moral results to be arrived at in the movement of 
opinion over the world towards the protection of the human family 
against wilful wrong, perhaps the course of events might have been 
different. It is not for us to call in question the course of Divine 
Providence which regulates all these things much better than any 
of us could aspire to do, for the benefit of the world. 

Should the worst happen to us I do not quite see the consequences 
which you imagine to flow from it. There will be many neutral 
nations who will naturally seek to appropriate to themselves the 
profits which Great Britain will wantonly throw away. She may 
injure us on the sea-board, but she cannot subject us. And the end 
will be that changes will take place in the course of trade as well as 


of political sympathies which may lead to important consequences 
in the course of years to the well-being of the British community. 
She has now no friends in the world not of her own blood. She 
will ultimately find the exception the most bitter of her enemies. 
She may conciliate the slave-holder of the South but her treaties 
with him must be made only as that of Faust was made, exchanging 
as present enjoyment for eternal condemnation. . . . 

This last news caught us in the midst of a visit to Monckton 
Milnes. I find I cannot follow that practice farther. 
Very truly yours, 

C. F. Adams. 

Andrew to Russell. 1 

Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 
Executive Department, 

Boston, December n, 1861. 

My dear Sir, — I thank you for your note of the 7th, enclosing 
a slip from the Evening Post condemning the numerous manifesta- 
tions of misplaced sympathy by some citizens of Boston with rebel 
prisoners confined at Fort Warren. 

I fully appreciate your feelings in this matter, and share with 
the writer of the Post in his condemnation of that sympathy with 
traitors which makes men, in comparison with whom Benedict 
Arnold was a saint, comfortable in their confinement, while our 
own brave defenders of liberty and Union and the rights of man 
are cut off from all such sympathy by the rigorous despotism of 
the southern oligarchy — but I do not know of anything that I 
can do to prevent it. 

I very well remember Mason's insolent overbearing demeanor 
in that memorable interview between himself and old John Brown, 
and can truly rejoice with you that, if he does not, in all respects, 
receive all the compensation for his baseness through a long public 
career in the few days which yet remain to him in this life, his power 
for future mischief is forever abridged, and that all the luxuries 
which Boston sympathizers with treason and with traitors can 
bestow cannot defeat the purposes and the plans of infinite justice. 
Very truly and faithfully yours, 

John A. Andrew. 

Edward Russell, New York. 

1 From the Boston Daily Advertiser, December 16, 1861. 


Adams to Dana. 1 

London, 13 December, 1861. 

My dear Sir, — Probably the thing is all over with you before 
now; certainly it will be before this reaches you. It has been a 
curious state of feeling among us here to witness the calm confidence 
with which you repose in the belief that Great Britain will abide by 
her former policy, merely because you can quote chapter and verse 
against her. The experience of the past summer might have con- 
vinced you that she was not indifferent to the disruption of the Union. 
In May she drove in the tip of the wedge, and now you can't imagine 
that a few spider's webs of half a century back will not be strong 
enough to hold her from driving it home. Little do you understand 
of the fast-anchored isle. 

But what provokes me most is that we should consent to take up 
and to wear her cast-off rags. Our record on this question as against 
her is like the Archangel Michael's as against Satan. And now we 
are trying to prove that she was right when she is ready to cry 
peccavi, not because she really repents, but because the sin has 
become inconvenient. 

I have not time to enter into the argument. My present expecta- 
tion is that I shall have a chance before long to talk it over with you. 
Ever truly yours, 

C. F. Adams. 

Adams to Davis. 

London, 13 December, 1861. 

My dear Sir, — I am indebted to you for several letters which 
I regret to say I have not had the time to answer. They have all 
been quite encouraging in their tone, for which I was especially 
thankful. The worst thing we have had to contend against here has 
been the continuously unfavorable accounts from persons who affect 
public opinion through the newspapers. 

Since the affair of the Trent matters have taken quite a new turn, 
and the disposition to take a hand in settling our affairs for us has 
become very predominant. We are all waiting with more or less 
impatience the answer to the message by the Europa. Most of us 
think that it has not been put in the most favorable channel to be 
pacific. So that we are making our preparations to accept a polite 
invitation to receive our passports. I hope the Government will be 
able to see its way to a contrary result. For really these two gentle- 

1 From the Adams mss." 


men rebels do not seem to me worth what they are likely to cost us. 
But I pray you as the matter has already been in all probability 
decided before now, to keep this my opinion entirely to yourself. 

With best respects to Mrs. Davis, I am, etc. 

C. F. Adams. 

To Charles Aug. Davis. 

Kennedy to Winthrop. 1 

Baltimore, December 16, 1861. 

My dear Winthrop, 

The Mason and Slidell affair now engrosses all discourse. The first 
rumbling from England has terrified many, and brought great joy 
to the sympathisers in the rebellion. I cannot believe that any pres- 
ent serious complication will grow out of it. I understand Seward 
takes it calmly, and that the graver portion of the corps diplomatique 
do not regard it so seriously as many do out of doors. As far as the 
English papers, yet received, disclose the objections to the arrest, 
it would seem that the crown lawyers admit the right to visit and 
search the Trent, but deny the right to seize the envoys without the 
adjudication of a prize Court. They say the Vessel should have been 
brought in. If that be the only irregularity complained of, how absurd 
to think that war must follow a refusal to deliver the prisoners. 
How still more absurd would be a peremptory demand and menace 
as the first act of the ministry, in such a case! But if this should 
be the course adopted by the ministry, it will be proof to us, that the 
Government has really been in sympathy with the Secessionists from 
the first, and has only been waiting for a decent pretext to declare 
in favor of that side. If that be true, it matters very little whether 
the breach occur today or next month. Another pretext would soon 
be found if this fail. 

I don't believe this is the temper of the government, and I there- 
fore think that, after due homage is rendered to King Demos, we 
shall wipe up the spilt good humor, and go on making mawkish 
speeches about Shakespeare and Milton, consanguinity and common 
language, as before. 

But if we should have war, what then? I make no question about 
the surrender of Mason and Slidell — that, in no event, never! — 
What if we have a war with England on the back of the rebellion? 

1 st. An advance of all our troops to take the hazard of battle — 
this quickly. If successful, the rebellion may be crushed. If not 
successful, then 

1 From the Winthrop mss. 


2d. The raising of the blockade, and, not long afterwards, an 
abandonment of the South. We may be constrained to recognize 
the revolution as a, fait accompli. Then, what next? 

3. The settlement of the division. We can admit ten states to 
be out of the Union. But we can never admit Kentucky, Missouri, 
Western Virginia, with Accomac and Northampton, and Maryland 
as parts of the Southern Confederacy; — thereupon will follow. 

4. A war with the Ten Confederate States on a question of bound- 
ary, and a fierce war it would be. You may estimate the temper and 
the policy which would control that war, by reflecting that it would 
no longer be a war with erring fellow citizens to restore to them their 
constitutional rights, but a war with an acknowledged foreign nation. 
Think how wide would be the license of such a war, and to what 
attempts it would invite. 

5. A continuous war with England till she was driven out of 

6. An implacable hatred against England which would lead to a 
systematic rejection as far as possible of all commerce with her, 
and to a reliance upon our own manufactures. 

7. The immediate establishment of an army, and the rapid aug- 
mentation of a navy, both able to cope with the utmost power of 
England. And then, with the memory of the wrong she has done us 
in our time of sorest need, a vigilant watch to strike at her, when 
the day of her distress shall come. 

Don't, you think these are the possibilities, if not the probabili- 
ties of the future, if England should take the false step of turning 
against us now? . . . 

John P. Kennedy. 

Dana to Adams. 1 

Boston, December 17, 1861. 

My dear Sir, — This steamer brings a terrific howl from Eng- 
land, on the Trent question. — "The smug and silver Trent comes 
me cranking in, and cuts me off from my domain, a huge half-moon, 
a monstrous cantle [out] " 2 — all the South! 

On a question of international law, I would offer no opinion to 
a person understanding the question as you do; but on a question of 
Prize Tribunals and Prize Processes, I have, of late, acquired some 
little knowledge, and got into the way of forming opinions. If Eng- 
land is going to make war upon us on a question of abatement, when 
the verdict and judgment have done substantial justice, let her do 
it, and the curse of the God of Peace be upon her! 

1 From the Adams mss. 2 Henry IV, Part I, m. 1. modified. 



But, independent of a question of Prize, did not your father, in 
one of his documents, say that Great Britain did not restrict her 
claim of the right to take seamen from our vessels to her own sub- 
jects? Did he not say that she extended her claim, as she did her 
usage, to Danes and Swedes, and men of all nations with whom she 
was at peace? I have never examined the question whether the tak- 
ing of persons from a neutral vessel by a belligerent, when the having 
them on board was a breach of neutrality, can be justified on any other 
grounds than as part of a Prize proceeding. Is the belligerent obliged, 
in a clear case, to treat the vessel as a prize, and have the change of 
property in her passed upon by the courts? If the hostile act is 
merely the transporting of soldiers, may he make the soldiers pris- 
oners, and make no claim on the vessel, and prove the facts as in all 
other cases of international conflicts on land? Is the omission to 
insist on the capture and bringing in of the vessel, a good ground of 
complaint? It seems to me that he may do so. The release is no 
injury to the neutral owner, or to any private interest, but a benefit. 
So far as the neutral sovereign is concerned, for the invasion of the 
flag, and territory, etc., cannot the question be decided between 
the two sovereigns as almost all other questions of conflict are, by 
the best evidence attainable of facts, and the opinions of jurists and 
constitutional advisers? To insist on the capture and taking in of 
the vessel, seems to me a confounding of two things that do not 
belong together. 

But, if I am wrong on that question, was the Trent a lawful prize? 
On that you have, doubtless, a fixed opinion, to which I defer, 
without knowing what it is. My own opinion, and I think, the uni- 
versal American opinion is that she was a lawful prize. Mason and 
Slidell were bound on an errand solely, necessarily, and extremely 
hostile. The mission was treason to the United States, and, in the 
view of the law of nations, one which embraced and included all 
possible hostilities; nor were they ambassadors, in the opinion of 
England. Their mission was notorious and of the highest character, 
and the Trent took them with full knowledge. She gave them what 
they needed most, transportation under safe conduct and disguise 
of a neutral flag; and she refused to our cruiser the right of search. 
If these facts would not condemn her, in any Prize court, there is no 
such thing as law to Prize. 

But, now to my specialty! We understand Great Britain to say 
that however that may be, we were bound to insist on the capture of 
the vessel, and obtain an adjudication. And that the failure to do 
so is ground of complaint. 

A prize proceeding is merely an inquest, by the Sovereign himself, 


through his judicial branch, upon his own act done through his ex- 
ecutive branch, to determine whether he will or will not ratify the 
capture. It is, in all its stages, a sovereign act, on sovereign respon- 
sibility. His executive officers seize, and he is responsible. He is 
not bound by the advice of his court, except morally, and is not 
exempt from responsibility because his judges pronounced it lawful 
prize. It comes down to this: — the usage of nations is settled that 
he must not treat the vessel as prize, or retain the fruits of the prize, 
and refuse to put the question through his own tribunals. The neu- 
tral sovereigns have a right to have the facts elicited in the usual 
judicial manner, and to have the chances of a decision in their favor, 
which decision is morally conclusive against the belligerent. But the 
court is bound by the will of the sovereign, as in the case of the orders 
in Council, and he is responsible for holding to the decision, if neu- 
trals think it unjust. And it is not conclusive in his favor, as a 
political question, in case of an open mixed commission, as in our 
case, in 1795. 

The Prize Court does not sit inter partes, to determine litigated 
question between private suitors, or between the sovereign and a 
private person; but it is an inquest, held by the sovereign's direction, 
ex parte entirely, passing upon questions not voluntarily submitted 
to it, either by actual or implied assent, relating to the property of 
aliens and strangers, over whom it has no jurisdiction, by consent or 
otherwise, seized and brought before it by force; and, if the sovereign 
follows its decisions, he is politically responsible. 

This being the theory of the Prize Tribunal, (which in England, 
is not the House of Lords, but the Queen in Council), there are many 
cases which cannot be submitted to it. The Court cannot decide 
questions or propositions. It must have, actually or by fiction, a 
res before it to pass upon. Whatever the Privy Council may do, 
our Supreme Court cannot advise, or give opinions on mere questions 
submitted by the sovereign. 

If the prize is lost, abandoned as unseaworthy, lost in the taking, 
or any other case of necessity arises which requires the captor to so 
treat the prize that there shall be no cause possible for the Court, 
it is enough for the sovereign to show, otherwise, that the capture 
was lawful, and to account for the failure to have an adjudication. 
Suppose a neutral vessel taken with a regiment of rebel troops on 
board, which had run one blockade, and was bound to another block- 
aded port, and the captor requires all his own men to guard his 
prisoners, and must either release the prize or destroy her, and he 
does the former, out of tenderness to the neutral, retaining the troops, 
but retaining, and using no thing which can be, even by fiction, the 


subject of adjudication, — must the sovereign, at the peril of war, 
restore the regiment to the neutral sovereign's control, because his 
officer so acted that the question of the vessel being a prize cannot 
be passed through the courts? Is it not competent for him, under 
the law of nations, to show two things, first that the vessel was a 
good prize, and second that the failure to carry the case through 
the Courts was from necessity in the exercise of a reasonable dis- 
cretion, bona fide, and attended with no possible injury either to 
the neutral owner or to the Sovereign, as, for instance, no loss of 
testimony or means of proving facts, — nothing that throws a cloud 
or doubt over the cause? To me, it seems that the sovereign must 
be entitled to do that, under the law of nations. And for a neutral 
to insist on a restoration of the troops, without reference to the ques- 
tion whether the vessel had made herself liable, and why she was not 
taken through the courts, would be utterly unjustifiable. 

As to the general view, I think our people are full of resolution. 
They wish to be in the right, and will do anything to avoid a war 
which is not undignified; but, if England makes a war which our 
people believe to be a war of pretext, the animus of which is to divide 
our empire, our people will enter into it with a zeal which has never 
been known before in our history. 

You, my dear sir, must be having a peculiarly jolly time! I 
think often of your situation. You are the truest martyr of these 

What a shame and pity it is, now, that the personal and political 
enemies of Mr. Seward have been so industrious in making him 
suspected and disliked abroad, and by the diplomatic circles here! 
I think his despatches and correspondence, furnished with the mes- 
sage of the President, do him great credit, and have restored confi- 
dence in him here. Yours, with respect and sympathy, 

Richard H. Dana, Jr. 

Adams to Seward. 1 

Legation of the United States, 
London, 20 December, 186 1. 

Sir, — Although nothing remains to be done here to modify the 
respective positions of the two countries in regard to the affair of 
the Trent, I decided to ask a conference of Lord Russell for the pur- 
pose of talking over the substance of your communications to me in 
Despatches No. 136 2 and No. 137. It was appointed for yesterday 
at three o'clock, when I enjoyed an opportunity for full and frank 

1 From the Adams mss. 2 November 30. 


My main object at this time was, so far as I could, to disabuse 
His Lordship's mind of the impression which certainly exists there, 
and in a much stronger degree among most of his colleagues in the 
Ministry, that the Government of the United States and most par- 
ticularly the Secretary of State, the organ of communication with 
Foreign nations, is bent upon a hostile policy towards Great Britain. 
I began by expressing my surprise at the prevalence of such an idea 
for which I could not well comprehend the cause. His Lordship then 
made a general reference to a speech said to have been delivered by 
yourself last year, which set forth the acquisition of Canada as an 
offset to the possible loss of the slave-holding States. 1 To which I 
replied that I could not precisely recollect what speech of yours was 
referred to, but that from my personal knowledge of the tenor of 
most of them, I would confidently affirm that any such reasoning 
was in its essence speculative, and had reference to the probable 
course of future events without in any way involving the adoption 
of a distinct line of aggressive policy to bring them about either now 
or hereafter. I knew that I had entertained similar notions, but I 
was very sure that a war to effect any artificial result was never in 
my contemplation. A conquest either as against Great Britain or 
the people of the Colonies was the very last way to realize it. It 
was wholly inconsistent with our doctrines. Here his Lordship ex- 
pressed doubts and instanced the case of Texas and Mexico. I ad- 
mitted the exception as valid, but observed that it had been brought 
about under the adverse influence of the very power now in arms 
against our authority. It was one of the causes which had brought 
on the present difficulties. The present Government would not be 
disposed to rely on it as a precedent. 

I then remarked that my Despatches enabled me now to assure 
him that the act of Captain Wilkes had not been authorised by the 
Government, and further that they would reserve themselves per- 
fectly free to act upon it until they should hear from this side of the 
water. If Her Majesty's Ministers were disposed to enter upon the 
subject with a view to an amicable adjustment they would be met 
in an equally friendly spirit. His Lordship expressed his gratifica- 
tion on receiving this information. He had himself little doubt 
in regard to the first point ever since learning from me the nature 
of the instructions given to the Commander of the James Adger. 
The other point was likewise important inasmuch as it removed the 
danger of committal prior to the moment when the views of the 
Government should be presented on the part of Great Britain. 

I then proposed, as a means of fully bringing to his Lordship's 

1 Bancroft, Life of William H. Seward, h. 153. 


knowledge the real spirit of the Government of the United States, 
that he should let me read to him a Despatch exactly as I had 
received it. A judgment might be fully formed of it in this way inas- 
much as the paper had recapitulated the various grounds of misun- 
derstanding and complaint. His Lordship said he should be glad to 
hear it, so I read all the Despatch No. 136 but the first paragraph 
personal to myself. After I had concluded His Lordship touched on 
two of the points there made. The second being the case of Mr. 
Bunch, having been already settled in the correspondence that has 
taken place, was of course omitted by him. In regard to the others 
his representations, I must concede, carried with them much force. 
He admitted that the opinion of the Attorney General on the En- 
listment Act, upon which alone they could draw an authority to 
interfere, was adverse to the application of a restriction in cases 
where the intent to carry arms and supplies illegally was not fully 
established. But he observed that on the other hand it was well 
known that much greater quantities of arms and supplies had been 
transmitted from Great Britain by the authorities of the United 
States, without let or hindrance. The facilities of the latter in ob- 
taining them safely were so much greater that on the whole it seemed 
to him the advantage if any was on their side. I confess I could not 
answer this argument. The consciousness of this truth has impaired 
my energies in making remonstrances from the outset. Neither did 
I seek to disguise my impression from his Lordship. 

On the third point his Lordship contested the fact as stated in 
the Despatch. He recapitulated what the Government had done as 
regards the assistance said to have been rendered to privateers in 
the Colonies. Supplies had been refused by the authorities in all 
cases. Whatever had been obtained had come from purchases of 
individuals. The only difference that he could find between the 
action of this Government and that of other nations was that the 
stay of belligerent vessels was confined by the latter to twenty-four 
hours. As to that he said that the omission to insert the same pro- 
vision in the British orders was by no means owing to unfriendliness 
to the United States. On the contrary it was thought that if a Gov- 
ernment vessel of theirs should put into any port, such as Malta, 
for example, to stay a short time, it had seemed to them churlish to 
issue a decree to limit it to a single day. He said he had taken some 
pains to make inquiries as to the action of other Governments, and 
so far as he could learn he found it in other respects substantially 
the same. 

In conclusion I expressed the opinion that at best there was 
nothing in all this to make a moment's difficulty between countries 

igi I.] THE TRENT AFFAIR, NOVEMBER, l86l. 103 

really well disposed to one another. The only serious trouble was in 
the case of the Trent. And as that was not a matter of discussion 
on this side of the water, I should content myself simply with asking 
his Lordship, but not in any official capacity, to give me such infor- 
mation respecting the position of that question, as he felt at liberty 
to communicate, in order that I might form for myself a judgment of 
the arrangements which it would be necessary for me to prepare. 
If I were to draw my conclusions from the tone of the newspapers 
supposed to be in the confidence of the Government, I should be 
obliged to infer that war was inevitable and immediate. I was 
anxious to correct these impressions if there was any room left for 
me to do so. 

His Lordship then went into an explanation of the measures 
taken by the Government, which it is needless to recapitulate, as 
you know them already. The conclusion which I drew was that if 
both Governments were really bent on preserving the peace there 
was nothing in the nature of the difference itself to produce a war 
between them. But nations have been so often precipitated into 
difficulties by circumstances having no necessary connection with 
the causes of offence that I find myself compelled to await the de- 
velopment of events rather than attempt to waste time in predicting 
a result. 

I have the honor to be, etc. 

C. F. Adams. 1 

Motley to Adams. 2 

Legation of the U. S. America. 
Vienna, December 20, '61. 

My dear Sir, — I was exceedingly obliged to you for your very 
interesting letter of 4 December, and perhaps you will hardly think 

1 The following letters from Adams and Seward on the Trent affair are 
printed in War Records, Series II, n. 

Adams to Seward. Seward to Adams. 

*November 15, 1861, p. 1078. November 30, 1861, 1108. 

November 29, 


December 27, 


December 3, 


December 28, 


*December 6, 


December 30, 


*December n, 


December 12, 


January 2, 



"January 10, 


January 17, 


The despatches that are starred were not printed in full, but nothing relating 
to the Trent affair was omitted. Seward's despatch to Lord Lyons, December 
26, 1861, is in the same volume, 1145. 

2 From the Adams mss. 


that I am taking a becoming way of manifesting my gratitude, by 
writing so soon again, and again asking for a line or two in reply. 
When I wrote to you three weeks ago, it was under the excitement 
of the first announcement by telegram that England had sent a 
peremptory demand to Washington. That demand if expressed in 
the terms and tone indicated by the journals which we know to be 
in the confidence of, and very subservient to, the prime minister 
seemed little short of a declaration of war, to take effect within a 
limited period. 

Your letter was very satisfactory to me, and I have great pleasure 
in expressing my hearty concurrence with all you say. To accept 
war with England now if we can avoid it with honor, seems little 
short of madness. It hardly needs an argument to show the disas- 
trous results of our providing the South with so potent an alliance 
as the fleets and armies of England will be for her. Strange enough 
that on the first day of Congress it should have been voted to thank 
the man whose blunder has placed the country in such a perilous 
dilemma. I take great pleasure in feeling sure, from the tone of your 
letter to me, that you have given the government the most sagacious 
and statesmanlike counsels in this grave emergency. I shall not re- 
nounce the hope that prudence and dignity and real patriotism will 
silence the clamors of passion — until the possibility of hope is taken 

The American government has now an opportunity — such as is 
rarely afforded — to manifest to the world that it is not subservient 
to the mob (according to the calumnies of its enemies), and that it 
is capable of holding on to the lofty principles of international law 
which it has always maintained. To my mind there could be no 
more legitimate triumph for us, than thus to rebuke the tyranny 
which Great Britain, when belligerent, has ever exercised over neu- 
trals and over us, most of all. Still, I see infinite difficulties in the 
way, — for to give up the commissioners, without procuring the 
adhesion of England to the principle on which such surrender is 
founded, would hardly be compatible with our character or our 
future safety. I don't desire that we should now adopt the Lynch 
law always practised on the ocean by England in place of our own 
time honored principles — but it is necessary to protect ourselves 
in future against a despotism which, on the seas, has ever been as 
unscrupulous as any of the tyrannies which, on land, England per- 
mits herself so loudly to rebuke. I take some consolation from the 
prudence manifested by the President in his silence. Silence was 
never more golden than at this moment. At any rate there will 
be time for the govt, to get your despatches, and it is with the ut- 

191 1.] THE TRENT AFFAIR, NOVEMBER, l86l. 105 

most sincerity that I express to you the comfort it gives me to reflect 
that we have a minister in England, at this moment, so able and so 
high minded. I could say a great deal more but I don't wish to have 
the appearance of a flatterer, and so will content myself with re- 
peating my conviction that the interests and honor of the country 
could not be in purer or abler hands. 

You may suppose that I am anxious enough at this moment. I 
am so isolated, and so in the dark. Even now I am ignorant as to 
the precise terms of the English demand, and of the instructions 
to Lord Lyons in the premises. I know nothing except what I see 
in the newspapers, and can learn from my colleagues. 

Would it be asking too much to request you to let me know exactly 
what the English Government has demanded, how long Lord Lyons 
is to wait for answer, and whether, if he leaves because of not ob- 
taining the commissioners, a declaration of war is at once to follow, 
or whether the English will entertain the notion of arbitration, or 
still better, of a general conference of the maritime powers for the 
purpose of revising the international code, and including the present 
case under such provisions. 

The despatch of Earl Russell to Lord Lyons can be no secret — for 
the French ambassador told me that he had received an epitome of it. 
Count Rechberg 1 has also a copy of it, and of course, Lord Bloom- 
field. 2 It seems rather hard that the person in Vienna most deeply 
interested in the matter should be in the dark, but it would not be 
agreeable to me, even if it were feasible, to ask any of these gen- 
tlemen to enlighten me, as to what I am supposed to know, at 
least as well as they. 

If you could find time to write me half a dozen lines, letting me 
know, as far as you feel authorized to do so, what has been written 
to Washington, and, furthermore, what language has been held on 
the subject, by word of mouth, as well as writing, either in Washing- 
ton or London since, you may rely on my entire discretion. I hope 
that you will not think me importunate in making this appeal ad 
misericordiam. You certainly will not suppose that I desire to inter- 
fere, in the least, with your functions, by even a word of advice. 
But we are so inexpressibly anxious, and I am so much in the dark, 
except so far as my course is lighted by the noxious and misguiding 
exhalations of the London press, that I am forced to intrude upon 
you, and more than I otherwise should do. It would be a great 

1 Count Johann Bernard Rechberg, who in 1859 succeeded Karl Ferdinand, 
Count von Buol-Schauenstein as Prime Minister. He held office until 1864. 

2 John Arthur Douglas Bloomfield, second Baron Bloomfield (1802-1879), 
who served as British ambassador to the Emperor of Austria from November 
22, i860, to October 28, 1871. 



satisfaction if I could come into Mansfield Street, for an occasional 
half-hour's talk. 

I maintain the best relations with the English ambassador here, 
and shall continue to do so, as long as circumstances will permit. 
He is an amiable and excellent man, and as sincerely desirous as I 
am, that the impending war should be averted. Of course we can- 
not enter much into the merits of the case, nor is it either his affair 
or mine — but their sympathies, when I first arrived here were fully 
with the North, and I can't but think that there must be many in 
England who will feel disgusted, when they find themselves engaged 
in an alliance offensive and defensive, with the slaveholders. The 
Austrian Government is most earnest in deprecating the war. The 
minister of foreign affairs is very anxious. The French ambassador 
assures me that there is not the slightest possibility of his Govern- 
ment taking the part of England — but that absolute neutrality 
will be maintained. I am assured by private letters from Paris, 
that this neutrality, so difficult to preserve, will be sympathetic 
not to England but to America. I think I understand the series of 
party intrigues in England which has at last caused the government 
to seize upon this pretext for raising a popular war cry in order to 
maintain a moribund ministry, or to effect a coalition. But I for- 
bear to touch on a subject on which you are so much better informed. 
I have no desire, either, to characterize the conduct of England to- 
wards us — as manifested by its press and its public men — with 
a few honorable exceptions. It would be difficult to do it, without 
using more violent and passionate epithets than I feel inclined, just 
now, to indulge in. I hope however that our Government will have 
the wisdom to frustrate the foul intrigue by which England is seeking 
our destruction, in this crisis of our history, and to parry the blow 
which she is aiming at our heart. . . . 

J. L. Motley. 

Davis to Adams. 1 

New York, 21 December, 1861. 

My dear Sir, — A late steamer brought here rather startling 
news from England in relation to Trent matters, and all our securi- 
ties turned a summerset, going down about 10 per cent. The next 
day, however, and mainly on the publication of General Scott's 
letter, these sundry securities advanced a little, but they all continue 
depressed, and our "Treasury Secretary" not less so by reason of 
the alarmed money market. 

1 From the Adams mss. 

ign.] THE TRENT AFFAIR, NOVEMBER, l86l. 107 

The public generally rather regards the Wilkes affair unfavorably, 
and would much prefer it had not occurred at all. For my own 
part, tho' I tried to talk "as big" about it as the tallest and fattest 
of John Bulls, I rather incline to think it would establish an unsafe 
precedent, and might in time trouble us, when we should or might 
become neutrals, and John belligerent; and we hear from time to 
time of sundry "mutton heads," British Commanders, boarding our 
vessels and deciding what was or was not Contraband, and taking out 
this or that bundle, box or bale, and let the neutral go. 

I think it would be safest now to establish a sounder principle by 
sending in and let a far more capable tribunal decide. I don't see 
any practical difference between persons and parcels, tho' on this 
occasion, one bag of "salt-peter" marked R would be of more value 
than the four persons taken from the Trent. We are yet all ignorant 
here regarding despatches received by Government or Lord Lyons, 
altho' the newspapers have invented all sorts of stories, and left 
the public mind to make all sorts of conclusions, etc., etc. I rather 
think if matters so turn that Mason and Slidell are released, it would 
for a few days occasion some escape of gas, but only make the boiler 
more secure. 

General Scott's letter seems to give general satisfaction here. 1 
Everybody I hear speak of it gives it hearty approval. Some of the 
points are well put. If we (or Captain Wilkes) began this seizure- 
irregularity, I don't see any wide difference between our case and 
that of a Plaintiff whose case, tho' a good one, is nonsuited for reason 
of not commencing regularly. So he has to begin again, altho' in the 
meantime the defendant has made-way with all his effects. I don't 
think Great Britain will gain anything in the estimation of our people, 
no matter now how much or how often she may take advantage of 
us and our condition. Our people have good memories. 

If it were only now to stop the joy of our rebels, I would almost 
at once say to England "If you want Mason and Slidell and Co., 
we will let you have them (and would be glad if you would take a 
hundred or two or more of the same sort). We only hope you will 
punish for us the Captain 2 and owners of [the] Trent for their dis- 
regard of your Queen's proclamation." It will be a long time before 
our people will forget the conduct of England in relation to the recog- 
nition of these rebels as belligerents. That is regarded here as a very 
shabby course of conduct and may too soon for England "return to 
plague the inventor"; but for that I sincerely believe our rebels would 

1 Said to have been written by John Bigelow and signed by Scott at the in- 
stance of Thurlow Weed. It is published in the New York Times, December 19, 
and in the Boston Daily Courier, December 20, 1861. Bancroft, Seward, n. 231. 

2 James Moir. 


long ere this have gone back to their "original element." Many a 
valuable life would have been saved on both sides, to say nothing 
of the millions of treasure wasted. The final result will be, we shall 
only be constrained to whip out these rebels more severely. I see it 
stated by Yancey and others they only ask to be recognized — 
' 'they ask no more — neither money or ammunition." "That is 
very cool," and it reminds me of a story Mr. Parish used to tell here 
some years ago: that he made the fortune of many a Jew broker in 
Hamburgh by allowing them to take his arm on 'Change by their 
special request, the impression being that he {Parish) was too proud 
to let a "poor man" take his arm. 

I am told that "secession" is a term now discarded by the rebels. 
They prefer to be called "revolutionists." They find that the doc- 
trine of "secession" too nearly approaches the folly of peeling a 
cabbage till a solid part is found, and when the job is finished they 
find nothing but a small leaf left, and they thus run the risk of bear- 
ing the name themselves, of what they have utterly peeled down to 
nothing — a "Cabbage head." 

I take the liberty of sending with this a letter to General Scott. 
Will I trespass too far on your kindness by asking you to cover it in 
the next parcel you may be sending to Mr. Dayton in Paris? 

It is rather a curious fact that Mr. Welles, our Navy Secretary, 
in his report for that department, agrees exactly with the reputed 
opinions of the "Law Lords of the Crown," and altho' some "dull 
heads" think the Secretary did not exactly mean to convey such 
an opinion, I can't well see any difference. One point is very clear, 
our President shows a clear record, and all that is reported of his 
having said, has been, "We are always ready to do right. I can 
afford to do so, and I suppose the country can also." 

Our forces on land and water, tho' as yet performing no very 
brilliant display are putting themselves in position to "strike 
hard" when they do strike, and the longer the delay, the less will 
be the sympathy North for the sufferers South. Very respectfully 
yours, etc. 

Charles Augustus Davis. 

Adams to Motley. 1 

Legation of the United States, 
London, 26 December, 1861. 

My dear Sir, — My correspondence has multiplied so much since 
this last trouble, that I must put all my friends on short commons, 

1 From the Adams mss. 


or else give them nothing. I will endeavor to answer the questions 
you put to me, only begging you first of all to pardon me if I do not 
dilate so much as I should like to. 

And first of the British demand. Lord Russell has not vouchsafed 
a copy to me, but he has given me the substance, which in matter 
does not vary materially from the account given of it in the French 
newspapers. In form he tells me that it takes the shape of two de- 
spatches, one preliminary, to apprize us of the nature of the other. 
The tone of both very moderate and nothing expressly said of the 
course of action to be taken in case no attention be paid to the requi- 
sitions, which are the return of the men and a suitable apology. 
Should nothing satisfactory appear at the end of a week, then Lord 
Lyons is to quit. And further the Deponent said not. 

Of course I am at the mercy of events. It will scarcely be likely 
that I should be permitted by our own Government to stay, unless 
they' should make up their minds to make some concession, and in 
that case it would seem as if the right time for doing it would be 
before rather than after Lord Lyons's departure. What will actually 
be determined on I know as little as you do. What is known to me 
is this. 1. That Captain Wilkes acted without authority. 2. That 
the President has not yet approved the act. 3. That the Govern- 
ment will not change its position until it has had an opportunity 
for amicable discussion with Great Britain. With these bases you 
are as well qualified to judge of the future prospects as myself. 

I agree with you in the opinion that in case of our yielding the 
point some security should be had that England will not whiffle 
back again to her old doctrines on the first occasion just as she has 
under the present temptation whirried round to ours. Fortunately 
for us the course of the French Government comes in to be of ma- 
terial use to us. In the face of their appeal, it would be difficult to 
make a change which would not compel a more solemn appeal to 
her. Indeed nothing strikes me so much here as the awe in which 
this country stands of France. It never was so before that I remem- 
ber. The anxiety shown to know the course France would take in 
this case, and the satisfaction manifested at the result, are indica- 
tions of something which it would be of use to ascertain. 

Last of all you ask me whether a declaration of war is to follow 
at once. I think not unless our people are more insane than I give 
them credit for. The Government here will not press the thing to 
an extreme unless they are driven to it by the impetus of the wave 
they have themselves created. The calculation has been that it 
would rise only high enough to float people over the next session of 
Parliament. But there are so many failures in this kind of arith- 


metic that I dare not put much confidence in the result. It is said 
that Lord Derby was consulted before the measures were taken, 
and approved them. But if the body of the Tories think anything 
is to be made by driving on to a war, that will not prevent their risk- 
ing the attempt. 

In the midst of this the country has lost its best adviser, in the 
Prince, who had no party objects to bias his opinions, and whose 
system was a little more expanded than that of the more exclusive 
English school. I have reason to believe that one of his very last 
acts was to recommend to the Queen to modify and soften the lan- 
guage of the Despatch to America. He believed in the policy of 
conciliating the United States instead of repelling them. That he 
has gone from us at this moment is, I fear, to be counted among the 
misfortunes to which our poor country in its great trial was to be 
exposed. . . . 

C. F. Adams. 

Adams to Seward. 

Legation of the United States, 
London, 27 December, 1861. 

Sir, — Although many of the leading presses zealously continue 
their efforts to keep up the war feeling here against the United 
States, I think the signs are clear of a considerable degree of re- 
action and of a growing hope that the friendly relations between 
the two countries may be preserved. Of course everybody is wait- 
ing to hear of the issue of the demands transmitted by the Europa. 
Much gratification has been expressed at the publication of the 
Despatch addressed by M. Thouvenel to the Government through 
M. Mercier, 1 as also at the treatment of the question of the Trent by 
M. Hautefeuille. Indeed the harmony of sentiment on this subject 
is so general throughout Europe as to have very much increased 
the confidence of the British Ministry in their position. They are 
even disposed to put up with unusual patience with the severe 
reflections made on the past policy of Great Britain in consideration 
of the substantial advantage they gain in the immediate dispute. 
Unquestionably the view of all other countries is that the oppor- 
tunity is most fortunate for obtaining new and large modifications 
of international law which will hereafter materially restrain the pro- 
verbial tendency of this country on the ocean. My own opinions 
to the same effect have been already so freely expressed that it is 
needless, if it were not also superfluous, to repeat them, especially 
now that the decision is probably complete. 

1 Printed in War Records, Series II. 11. 11 16. 


But even if it should be possible to escape the immediate danger 
from the present difficulty, my confidence in the tendency of things 
towards peace in this country has been so much shaken as to make 
the prospects for the future quite doubtful. Parliament will prob- 
ably assemble somewhat earlier than has been anticipated, perhaps 
by the 16th of January. It will then be impossible to avoid a gen- 
eral expression of opinion upon American affairs. Of what a char- 
acter that will be, some idea may be found from the various addresses 
made during the recess by members to their respective constituencies. 
As usual in all deliberative assemblies having freedom of speech 
the popular tendency will be towards the most positive doctrines. 
The war party will in this particular enjoy the advantage which 
they will not fail to use with effect against the Ministry of Lord 
Palmerston, especially if there be the smallest opportunity of re- 
proaching it for any concession on a point of honor. Even if in this 
particular they should find it difficult to make an issue, they will 
not fail to go on and urge the application of a limit to the law of 
blockade, as well as to the refusal to recognize a de facto Govern- 
ment. In both these cases the ground has been already broken by 
the public press and by particular members. So that although 
Lord Russell in a portion of his latest conversation with me affirmed 
that we shall have full opportunity given to us of trying our experi- 
ment of overcoming the rebellion before action on their part, it is 
not quite clear to my mind that he will very long retain the power 
to make his words good. I have felt it my duty at this time to enter 
into such speculations solely because I think I ought to prepare 
your mind for the possibilities that may follow a settlement of the 
immediate difficulty. Neither do I wish to undervalue the amount 
of sympathy and good will that may be brought into play to avert 
the threatened danger. It is from the friends of our Government 
that I gather most of my conclusions. And one of them is that 
nothing but very marked evidences of progress towards success will 
restrain for any great length of time the hostile tendencies developed 
by the case of the Trent. 

I am happy to say that I have seen and conferred repeatedly both 
with Bishop Mcllvaine and Mr. Weed. I think their services have 
already been of material use, and that they will be of still more 
hereafter if peaceful relations should be preserved. The industry 
of the Confederate emissaries in poisoning the sources of opinion, 
as well as in disseminating wholly erroneous notions of the nature 
of the struggle in America, has been unwearied. And where the 
seed has fallen on favorable ground it has germinated strongly and 
fructified well. But the effort to conceal the true issue and to sub- 


stitute a false one has failed. The progress of affairs in America 
is daily more and more exposing its real character. Much as the 
commercial and manufacturing interests may be disposed to view 
the tariff as the source of all our ills, and much as the aristocratic 
classes may endeavor to make democracy responsible for them, the 
inexorable logic of events is contradicting each and every assertion 
based on these notions, and proving that the American struggle is 
after all the ever-recurring one in human affairs, between right and 
wrong, between labor and capital, between liberty and absolutism. 
When such an issue comes to be presented to the people of Great 
Britain stripped of all the disguises which have been thrown over it, it 
is not difficult to predict at least which side it will not consent to take. 1 

I ought before closing this letter to make one remark in regard 
to the manner in which the telegraphic intelligence from America 
is made up here. Finding what its tendency is, I thought it expe- 
dient to seize the occasion of a voluntary transmission of the favor- 
able news from Port Royal to me by the agent, Mr. Reuter, to have 
some conversation with him on the general subject. I concluded 
to go so far as to offer to subscribe for the American portion of his 
labors for the time I might remain here, or else, not exceeding one 
year. In consequence he offered to let me have the advantage of 
sending messages to the Government, if I wanted to do so at any 
time. I know not precisely what the cost of this will be, nor whether 
the Department will authorize my charging it on the contingent 
fund of the Legation or not. But both for its political and personal 
advantages in my present situation, I regard the step as having been 
so wise that I shall continue it in any event during the present season. 
The telegrams are not yet what they should be; though not so bad 
as they were. I learn from another source that they are trans- 
mitted through Liverpool where they suffer gentle modifications 
from the hands of some directors of the company not well affected 
to our cause. 

I have the honor to be, &c, &c, &c. 

C. F. Adams. 

Adams to Everett. 2 

London, 27 December, 1861. 

My dear SrR, — The article from the Scotsman to which you 
refer attracted my attention immediately on its publication. It is 
one of many instances which have come under my observation of 

1 To this point this despatch was printed in Diplomatic Correspondence, 
1862, 12. 

2 From the Adams mss. 

191 ij THE TRENT AFFAIR, NOVEMBER, 1861. 115 

the uses made of the press in Great Britain from central points and 
high sources in order to affect public opinion. I presume that the 
Emperor of France set the example of this sort of manoeuvre. It 
has been so much improved upon here however that it almost takes 
the character of ubiquity. One effect of it is to render it rather 
hard for persons not in the secret to distinguish the genuine from 
the spurious articles. I had reason to know in the case of the Scots- 
man that the information must have come from authority. Occa- 
sionally I can detect the same thing in other quarters. But my 
chances for knowing how often it happens are of course very small 
and hence the resort to conjecture must be very unsafe. I dwell on 
this subject the longer that I have been for a fortnight very much 
exercised by it. I have reason to be sure that on particular occasions 
at least four London newspapers must have been prompted. If 
from this I should jump to a general conclusion that they always are, 
I should have to make up my mind that war with America will 
break out directly. Yet on the other hand I am from other reasons 
bound to believe that such is not the settled policy, nor is it even 
likely, unless the disposition of the Government of the United States 
be to invite it. 

In regard to the immediate point at issue, we shall so soon get a 
determinate answer that speculation upon it would be idle. But 
should we succeed in reaching a peaceful solution of that problem, 
the way in which it leaves us is far from encouraging for the future. 
The development of the inner feelings of large numbers of people 
of all classes has been unmistakable. The dislike of the people of 
the United States has not surprised me half so much as the fear of 
them. There is an instinctive feeling that the continuance of our 
system of Government in its career of prosperity will ultimately 
prove the destruction of theirs. Hence the ill-suppressed satisfac- 
tion with our misfortunes and the fixed determination of some to 
make our recovery impossible. Hence you will observe that just 
in the proportion that we may appear likely to restore ourselves, 
will the inclination manifest itself to seize upon some ready pretext 
to remove the prospect further than before. 

Parliament will soon meet and we shall then have an opportunity 
for better observing the progress of this game. 

Among our misfortunes I count the loss of Prince Albert. Al- 
though without any direct political influence his judgment and calm- 
ness were not without their effect on the course of events. It is 
generally understood here that his policy was more conciliatory than 
that of the prime minister. Very truly yours, 

C. F. Adams. 


The Surrender of Mason and Slidell. 1 

The Secretary of State has undoubtedly covered the retreat in the 
Mason and Slidell case with masterly skill. Drawing from the well- 
stocked armory of our old arguments for the rights of neutrals, he 
has readily found a weapon effectual to parry the savage thrust 
made at us by England. A casus belli he has converted into an occa- 
sion for procuring the settlement of a great question of international 
law. We do not now inquire into the nature of the argument, by 
which he decided that to be wrong which the ablest jurists have 
declared to be right, and by which he claims to preserve national 
consistency in a surrender, when the capture itself had been well 
argued to be consistent with theory and precedent. It is perhaps 
enough for this aspect of the case to say that the grounds of adjust- 
ment are no doubt such as in the long run will be satisfactory to 
this country, which is mainly interested in the liberal interpretation 
of neutral rights, and might hereafter be a matter of some regret to 
England, who has a correspondingly paramount interest in bellig- 
erent rights, — if indeed that power ever hesitated to exercise any 
right, for which might can furnish the law. 

The dry question of law, however, as we conceive, is now the least 
important part of the case. The essential inquiry is as to the spirit 
and method in which England has sought a solution of the difficulty. 
Upon this head we invite the attention of our readers to a short 
review of a few facts, as the matter is apparently about to be tem- 
porarily laid aside. 

The news of the arrest of Mason and Slidell reached England on 
the 27th of November, through channels openly hostile to the 
United States. The action of the English government was resolved 
upon on the 29th and publicly taken on the 30th, before the Ameri- 
can minister in London could learn anything from his own govern- 
ment as to the facts, and before it could be known whether the 
United States had ordered or would ratify the act of Captain Wilkes. 
The action thus taken, without opportunity for the correction of 
errors or the ascertainment of the truth, included, — 1, the despatch- 
ing of a demand for the surrender of the men and for an apology; 
2, the prohibition of exports of arms and munitions, then in progress, 
for the aid of the United States in dealing with the rebellion; 3, very 
extensive and ostentatious naval preparations; 4, the instant de- 
spatching of troops, in as large bodies as could be mustered, to Can- 
ada. It matters not in what words the diplomatic proceedings were 
conducted. These four measures are the parts of a single act; the 

1 The leading editorial in the Boston Daily Advertiser, December 30, 1861. 


despatch to Lord Lyons and the Queen's proclamation bear even 
date; all that was done must be viewed as a whole, and one part of 
the proceedings must be judged in the light of the others. 

The terms of Earl Russell's despatch, however, although the tra- 
ditional decorum of diplomacy is preserved, suit well with the rest of 
the proceedings. The question whether or not the seizure of the 
rebel envoys was an affront to the British flag and a violation of 
international law, has been settled in advance, and is not open to 
argument. The terms which " alone could satisfy" her Majesty's 
government are, the liberation of the persons seized and "a suitable 
apology for the aggression committed." It matters not in what 
proprieties of diction such propositions as these are couched; they 
are essentially arrogant and offensive. Coupled with such military 
preparations as accompanied them, and were plainly intended to 
increase their efficiency with our government, they carry a threat 
as well as a demand. And when addressed to this country, after the 
asserted forbearance of years, with an evident preference for that 
precise moment when our powers are taxed to the utmost, and our 
national existence menaced by a domestic foe, the whole proceeding 
is overbearing, cowardly, and dishonorable beyond expression. 

At another time our government, whatever its view of the law of 
the case, would not have been likely to pass by proceedings so ex- 
tremely offensive, even if England had indulged in them. At present, 
however, it has been judged impossible to resent this public humilia- 
tion. It is the duty of every patriot to stand by the government in 
that decision, without cavil and without hesitation. With a heavy 
heart, we confess our own inability to discern any other course 
which offered, either safety from utter ruin for the national cause, 
or security from a final and perhaps worse blow to the national 
pride. Even now, so undefined is the palpably sinister purpose of 
England, that we cannot but feel it to be uncertain, whether the 
issue has been postponed for years, or only for a few months. But 
we say with solemn and deliberate conviction, that this nation will 
deserve to perish when it forgets the arrogant terms on which an 
adjustment of a question, not essentially critical, has been forced 
upon it, at a moment of distraction and weakness. 

To each of the two other parties most concerned — we mean 
England and the South — the solution of the Slidell and Mason 
case will carry some important instructions as to the temper and 
purposes of our people. In England it has been pretty steadily 
urged that our executive would find it difficult to curb the popular 


passion so far as to give up these men. This idea of the weakness of 
our government has not originated in the conspicuous follies of Mr. 
Russell, the Times correspondent, or of any other shallow observer 
of passing events. It has sprung from the prevailing English notion 
that democracy is a failure; that in this country the worst rule; that 
our affairs are guided by the blind passion of a mob; only restrained 
from an outburst of howling fury by compliance, and deaf to every 
argument of prudence, of justice, or of honor. Not a little satisfac- 
tion is to be discerned in the persistent confidence with which such 
views have been urged in connection with this affair. A large section 
of English opinion has eagerly proclaimed the supposed disastrous 
termination of the democratic experiment, and has contrasted it 
with the asserted steadiness of English institutions. The same 
class of minds has hailed this affair as certain to prove a decisive 
test of our failure. They have held up the possible conflict between 
the judgment of the government and the impulse of the people, as a 
severe trial for the former, and have confidently asserted that it 
could not be withstood. 

The trial has been met fearlessly and successfully. Public opinion 
has for several days clearly been settling down to the support of the 
government, in any course which it should think necessary to pursue. 
English observers do not overrate the strain which this result brings 
upon the national pride, now wrought up to an unprecedented sen- 
sitiveness. They do not overrate the depth of the wound which is 
today rankling in the national heart; we doubt if they even begin 
to appreciate it. But without waiting for our manifestation of 
opinion, we can say, with positive certainty of truth, that the Ameri- 
can people today stand by their government and uphold it in its 
exercise of a sound discretion; that the public mind is swayed by no 
passion, but meets the subject with entire calmness and deliberation; 
and that so far from any of the alleged violence and unreason of a 
democracy being exhibited, the danger is that foreign observers will 
mistake the popular feeling for tame indifference. 

Our form of government has indeed achieved a most conspicuous 
triumph, of a double aspect. It has developed that enthusiasm 
among the masses, which rejoiced in an extreme assertion of our 
rights, and which was prepared to maintain that act, had such been 
the decision, to the last; it has also developed a sobriety and self- 
restraint among the people, which has proved equal to the most 
trying emergency. A nobler union of great moral elements of 
national strength could not be desired. It offers a sufficiently strong 
contrast to the insane fury of the English public for the last few weeks, 
and the obvious shrinking of the ministry before the popular storm. 

191 1.] THE TRENT AFFAIR, NOVEMBER, l86l. 117 

It is the popular and not the exclusive form of society, which comes 
out from this trial with the best proofs of steadiness and well bal- 
anced strength. 

The South on the other hand has a watched with intense eagerness 
for any sign of the sway of popular passion. The South, like England, 
is interested in any argument which tells against the theory of self- 
government; but it also had an immediate and vital interest in the 
fixedness of purpose which our people and our government might 
exhibit. The national humiliation, will be but a poor offset to them, 
for the deadly certainty that no new or collateral purpose is to divert 
the nation from the work of suppressing the rebellion. They have 
watched with intense anxiety to see whether our government might 
not be embroiled by this affair, whether its attention might not be 
turned to a new object, and whether a new enmity might not relax 
its resolution in dealing with them. Today the conviction is settling 
down upon the South, that nothing less than the whole power of 
our government will continue to be devoted to the work of crushing 
the rebellion. They will begin to comprehend, not only that the 
hope of foreign aid is cut off from them, but also the steady and 
pitiless determination with which the people will press their present 
undertaking to a successful close. 

The South will thus be able to learn that it is not a mere trans- 
port of rage that has united the North against them. They will 
learn that the moving impulse is a resolution so deeply rooted as to 
hold its place, through reverse and discouragement and humbled 
pride and the most powerful diverting influences. Both for them and 
for English observers it will be a matter of some interest to learn 
that a country governed by popular institutions is capable of re- 
taining a fixed purpose with such terrible persistency, contrary to 
the thousand arguments based on alleged fickleness and unsteady 
temper of the masses. To English observers, indeed, it may prove 
to be a fact of no small consequence, that a democratic republic 
proves to have united with the enthusiasm and prudence which are 
the complementary conditions of strength, the steady adhesion to a 
fixed object, which is also a condition of the effective direction of 
that strength. 

Davis to Adams. 1 

Per Str. America. 

New York, New Year's Eve, 1861. 

My dear Sir, — The public mind here is much relieved, by the 
peaceful solution of the Trent affair. Mr. Seward's letter of the 
1 From the Adams mss. 


26 inst. to Lord Lyons meets general approval here — it seems to 
me to be a very able production — the hope is generally enter- 
tained it may prove satisfactory to England. If not all I can say is, 
the number here that would have deeply regretted a rupture with 
England, before Xmas day, (or before the date of Mr. Seward's 
letter) would be very sensibly reduced should England seek more. 

Once let England, (or any other nation) make an impression here 
upon our people that a pretext is sought for to do us harm, and 
eventually to break us up, then, I venture to say there would not be 
found a "Corporal's guard" this side of "Mason and Dixon's" line 
that would utter a lament, but go to War with as much composure 
as they would "go to Meeting." And as for losses by War, it is 
wonderful how little the people of this country are " horror struck " as 
compared with other people. However much the opinion abroad 
may prevail that we are a Money Seeking People, the fact to me 
(admitting its truth) seems more a laudable pride in success. A 
man who invents a new rat-trap is just as happy (if the patent is 
gained and money with it) as he who gains a vast fortune at once 
by any other success. Money here is not needed for the purposes 
prevailing in Europe. We know nothing about establishments in- 
volving retinues of servants in powdered heads and in dresses re- 
sembling our autumn woods, — in a word we don't know how to 
spend money thus. We would rather operate and speculate with our 
surplus. Therefore a War which threatens "awful results" in 
Europe, fails to produce that awe here. Hence "he reckons with- 
out his host" who thinks he can reach success by a threat of destroy- 
ing our property — only let Government keep our cause right, and 
I have no fear that the loss of property would cause a hold back in 
our masses rich and poor. 

You will learn by this Steamer that our Banks have decided to 
"suspend specie payment." This took effect yesterday, and as 
quick as the telegraph could tell it, all leading points have followed 
suit. Thus far this supposed wise precaution produces more quiet 
than excitement. The bullion dealers can't sell coin at an advantage 
of over 1/4 of 1 per cent for our Bank bills. One of the shrewdest 
of that circle told me to day that although he had provided him- 
self with a goodly supply of Coin, to take advantage of a panic, he 
found he could make nothing by it. "The fact is," said he, "our 
people have seen of late so much Gold, they are sick of it." 

Our Banks have not stopt coin payment because they have no 
Coin, for they hold here 25 Millions, but they found it diminishing 
not for export to Europe, but going to Interior where Government 
has been making the largest disbursements and our sea board towns 

191 1.] THE TRENT AFFAIR, NOVEMBER, l86l. 119 

furnish the money; and again, certain timid people,, not knowing 
what may turn up, draw their deposits from Bank in Gold, and put 
it back again in same Bank for safe keeping. I don't think a Mil- 
lion of Coin has left the Country for the last few months. So altho' 
the sea board Banks deem it prudent to retain coin, for appearance 
sake, the great bulk of coin is in the Interior, where it is most wanted. 
As we import little or nothing, we have nothing to sell to the in- 
terior, and as the interior gets most of the public expenditure and 
at the same time are large exporters of food etc. abroad, you can 
readily see why Coin in salt water cities diminish[es]. Altho' our 
Banks suspend coin payment, the Country does not, for I suppose 
from reliable statistics, the Country never held so large an amount 
of Coin. Therefore no importance whatever need be attached to 
this " (formerly) awful event," — a suspension of our sea board Banks 
of coin payment. I mention this event mainly to illustrate, or make 
simpler, what abroad may be deemed "a sad catastrophy" or at 
least a great puzzle. And he who thinks, the sea board is broken up 
because the Banks there suspend, will find himself mistaken if he 
relies on a whole Country being broken up. The Country generally 
was never stronger. The fact is thus far our home war is financially 
giving money power to our interior, which thus far is a favorable 
result. I see much future and ultimate good in it. I am free to say 
to you, what I would not as readily say abroad, that as matters now 
stand and tend, our Treasury department at Washington must 
soon be in a snarl or tangle, it must resort to stringent means and 
make a Law to legalise its own issues of paper money as a legal tender. 
They can't escape this, unless Congress grant a Charter for a strong 
National Bank, which alone can harness up vast private means for 
public aid, and general good. The Government has already vir- 
tually suspended specie payment, but the Masses don't know it; in 
other words, the Treasury of U. S. has already borrowed of our 
Banks all and more than the Banks could lend, and as yet the 
Treasury department has not done one jot in the way of enabling 
said Banks to aid the Government. So the Banks unable to lend 
more, must stop, and so must the Government. Mr. Chase, the 
Treasury Secretary is no doubt a very honest and good man, but he 
does not seem to me, up to the times, in a word, he seems to lack 
the knowledge of the power of the Government to adopt measures 
that would enable the Banks of the Country the better to do all the 
Government needed to be done. He don't seem to see this. He 
thinks if Banks are benefitted by Government aid, the Government 
loses what Banks may gain; so he is "penny wise and pound fool- 
ish," so he adopts measures (not intentionally) that break the 


Banks, and in the end breaks himself. He is "not the right man in 
the right place." And after he has wriggled and twisted thro' a vast 
amount of trouble and difficulty, he or his successor must come at 
last to a system I long since called his attention to. 

A good strong National Bank, to be owned exclusively by private 
citizens, and managed by them, and so securely based on Govern- 
ment securities as its Capital, that Government must use it as its 
fiscal agent, a necessary requisite. This alone can make all crooked 
matters straight, and drag national financial matters out of the 
quagmire, to which they are fast tending. 

Our "old Duke," General Scott is again with us after an absence 
of only forty-seven days his health vastly improved, and his spirits 
never better. I met him on his arrival, and spent two or three 
hours with him almost alone. He had heard nothing, he had not 
even heard of the President's Message and other matters. Conse- 
quently I had an advantage over him — he was willing to be a good 
listener. He was charmed that the President had said nothing about 
that Trent affair, and scarcely less so when I told him the Message 
made honorable mention of himself (to say nothing about that odd 
recompence he thought the Country still owed him). He is full of 
affection for every body (except Secessionists). We are all glad to 
have him with us again. He should never again be put to the labor 
of detail, he is a great military and topographical lexicon, to be re- 
sorted to for what he knows, but not to work out. He lacks spine, 
knees, and feet, — all else is as bright as ever. The whole Country 
loves him — this side of Dixie. I continue to feel all confidence 
that Secession is only waiting to be licked out. Such is sure to be its 
destiny, and so I close with best wishes for many happy returns of 
happy New Years joined in sincerely by mine to you and all yours. 
We are all very quiet and very orderly, no mobs, no contests. I 
never knew N. York more tranquil. Your friend, and obedient 

Ch. A. Davis. 

P. S. Just as I was closing this, I receive thro' State Depart- 
ment your very kind letter of 13 Dec[ember] instant, for which I 
am very much obliged. But I pray you to understand that how- 
ever agreeable to me to hear from you, I do not expect you to reply 
to my idle letters. Your time must be too much occupied with 
more important matters. 

I of course intuitively abstain from repeating any thing from your 
Pen. I know the importance attached to and the aptitude of others 
to misstate what they hear from responsible quarters. 

The story told of that German diplomatist who never allowed a 


Servant to answer any question or tell any thing he saw or heard, 
is not without its point. He only lost himself once and that was on 
the occasion of his master suddenly falling dead in a fit, overwhelm- 
ing the poor servant with fright and affliction, and just then an 
acquaintance calling, and the sad event stated to him, but the 
faithful servant recalling his duty, exclaimed "For God sake, sir, 
don't repeat it to any one, for my master may not wish it made 

Again wishing you all a happy New Year and feeling sure you 
will soon hear of glad tidings — an overwhelmed rebellion, I remain 
Your friend, 

Ch: A. Davis. 1 

Clay to Adams. 2 

St. Petersburg, Ra., January 1, 1862. 

My dear Mr. Adams, — Mr. Murray going to London next week, 
I take the opportunity of sending a letter by him to you. We have 
all felt the most intense anxiety about the Trent case, fearing it 
would result in a war. I am of the opinion that we are wrong in 
that: and its effect would be to divide our own Country and unite 
all England against us. I feel much relieved by the telegram from 
N. York (20th) which looks more pacific — so I will not further dis- 
cuss these matters which will probably be determined before this 
reaches you. I am as jealous of National honor, as any one, but 
nations like individuals must sometimes wink at insults — and 
even swallow them with however a bad grace! So we must during 
our difficulties put up even with some wrongs rather than run into 
war with other powers, remembering that our first duty is the 
restoration of the Union. 

I see much to blame in England's course: it is plain that her 
hatred of Republican government causes her to overlook the Jus- 
tice of our Cause. The aristocracies and monarchs of Europe may 
well fear the light of our example — especially if we show vitality 
and power enough to overthrow this great and wicked rebellion. So 
we are not to expect much aid or sympathy from foreign Govern- 
ments: and we must be very cautious to find ourselves always in 
the right, for our own sake as well as universal justice. Russia I 
think however our sincere friend, through sentiment and interest 
both. She knows what would be the tyranny of England, if she 

1 Charles Augustus Davis (1795-1867), merchant and author of Major Jack 
Dovming's Letters: New York, 1834- 

2 From the Adams mss. Cassius Marcellus Clay was Envoy to Russia from 
March 28, 1861, to June 25, 1862, and from March 11, 1863, to September 25, 1869. 



were not rivalled and balanced by our maritime power. Whilst the 
antecedents of the two governments are favourable to friendly 
sentiments. She allowed us the treaty of Paris ('56) at once, which 
England and France refused us. But the treaty is in abeyance 
("lying over") for the present — to await events. I think we can 
always count upon her good offices. 

I desire to say a word about my letter to the Times, in as much 
as some of my enemies in America have ventured to accuse me of 
trespassing upon your ground of action. That letter was written 
reluctantly by me, and only at the urgent request of a great many 
Americans in London. It was supposed that I might say things 
which it would be well for Englishmen to hear, and which your 
position would not allow you to utter. Hence it was agreed that 
I should make a short popular argument, and that Mr. Motley 
should follow it up with a more elaborate argument. This was 
done, and my letter was shown to Mr. Motley, and his severest 
criticism invoked, before it was published. It is believed by my 
friends in Europe that the letter did much good: however, it was at 
the least well intended. I hardly deem it necessary to allude to 
this, because you know my respect for your character and abilities: 
and I cannot for a moment suppose, that I was as the N. Y. Times 
would urge, interfering with your proper duties. 

Be pleased to remember me to your family, and believe me truly, 
Your friend, 

C. M. Clay. 

Parkes to Adams. 1 

17 Wimpole Street, 2 January, 1862. 

Dear Mr. Adams, — I have received this morning a very sen- 
sible excellent letter from Palfrey. I call to shew it you, should you 
be at home. Otherwise, I must send it you in the evening, after I 
have read part to a friend. 

If our instructions to Lord Lyons are that the Captives be sur- 
rendered I do not believe your Government will comply. It may 
over [offer] an arbitration (and which Lord Lyons will have no 
power to accept) but I augur from Palfrey's letter and all I read 
that S[lidell] and M[ason] will never under all circumstances be sur- 
rendered. I wish I could interpret the Sybil Books other wise, but 
I ever look evils in the face. I do not doubt that the President and 
his Cabinet have every disposition, as it is also their interest, to 
accommodate this most unfortunate and untoward affair; but 
viewing all considerations I cannot expect a surrender. The chances 
1 From the Adams mss. 


of accommodation will in my humble judgment arrive only when 
Lord Lyons returns home. 

My idea is, that Seward will probably offer an Arbitration, but 
which I fear will find no favour in Europe. 

My best wishes of a Happy New Year to you and Mrs. Adams, 
and all yours; and my fervent hope that Peace between your States 
and my own Country may not be interrupted A. D. 1862, altho' 
appearances are dark. Yours truly, 

Joseph Parkes. 1 

Winthrop to Kennedy. 2 

Boston, 2 January, 1862. 

I think Seward managed the Mason and Slidell matter with great 
habilite, as the French say. I am afraid England will verify the 
old maxim of Tacitus, "Odisse quern laederis." She, certainly, has 
wronged us. Not, perhaps, in the despatch of her Ministry, which 
was mild enough, but in fitting out so many Dogs of War to let 
loose upon us when we were crippled. Perhaps we misconstrue the 
English as much as they certainly do us. At all events, it is a bad 
business well over. . . . 

Robert C. Winthrop. 

Dayton to Winthrop. 2 

Private. Paris, January 4, 1862. 

My dear Winthrop: 

Mr. Curtis 3 has just been in my office with a letter of much in- 
terest from his son 4 in Boston. His letter like your own is full of 
the question of Mason and Slidell. 

We are full of it — all Europe is full of it. Would to G-d that our 
old friend Wilkes had let them go! They could have done nothing 
here, that would not have been equally well done without them. 
Neither England nor France can be coaxed or wheedled into any 
important action. What they do, will be done upon full advisement, 
and I do not think that recognition of the South would be advanced 
one day, by the presence of a dozen such envoys. It may be ad- 
vanced many days by their absence originating in such a cause. 

1 See Dictionary of National Biography, xliii. 304. 

2 From the Winthrop mss. 3 Thomas B. Curtis. 
4 Daniel Sargent Curtis. 


Rely upon it, England is in earnest and France believes she is in 
the right and says so. But you have before this, I am sure, the letter 
of Mr. Thouvenel which will explain the view of this government 
upon the question. For the first time in a century we are advocating 
a restriction upon neutral rights and England is sustaining the free- 
dom of the seas! The history of the past action of the two countrys 
is all reversed. War with England would under any circumstances 
be a misfortune, but upon such a question the entire sentiment 
of the Maritime Powers of the World will, I fear, be against us. 
It seems to me that the people of the U. States, even Governors, 
Judges, etc., etc., have been led astray in this matter by their feelings, 
— or rather perhaps they have felt that they had a perfect right to 
apply British doctrines to British ships. If the public law were made 
by G. B. alone, this would be so, but other nations of the earth look 
at this question in reference to their own ships. Weed (Thurlow) 
has published a letter in England in which he admits substantially 
that we were wrong. I feel that we are in a false position, and only 
pray to Heaven that such discretion and prudence may controul at 
home, as may enable us to get out of it. If England shall acknowl- 
edge the independence of the South, France will, I fear, at no distant 
day follow her example; but this is 'entre nous' strictly. . . . 

Wm. L. Dayton. 

Adams to Frothingham. 1 

London, 8 January, 1862. 
My dear Sir, 

We have been living some weeks in a state of complete suspense, 
respecting the issue of the difficulty between the two countries. 
A necessary consequence has been uncertainty of the duration of 
our stay at this place. At one time my mind was pretty much 
made up that before this date I should have been either on the con- 
tinent, or on my way home. Since that period I have thought the 
probabilities of my stay the strongest. Now I do not know what 
to think. Next Sunday will probably bring a decision. And I 
confess I shall be glad to learn it whatever it may be. 

There has been a great contest going on in this country between 
the two forces, one favoring a generous policy towards America, 
and the other impelled by more ignoble motives. Down to the 
moment of the attack of Captain Wilkes the former had the pre- 

1 Nathaniel Langdon Frothingham (1 793-1870). Adams mss. 


dominance. But the appeal to the popular pride consequent on 
that act carried away numbers who would otherwise have remained 
neutral or indifferent, and the tendency is now in the other direc- 
tion. Even if we get over this difficulty it will not replace us in 
the position we occupied before it happened. We shall be subject 
to new shocks with less and less faculty to withstand them. I enter 
into all your feelings at the situation, which are so admirably de- 
scribed in your letter. . . . Very sincerely yours, 

C. F. Adams. 

Amory to Adams. 1 

Boston, January 8th, 1862. 

The news of the week has been the very quiet departure of the 
"Rebel Chiefs" in a "tug boat" for Cape Cod, on the first of Jan- 
uary, their embarkation, their departure in a hurricane and their 
not yet being heard of; probably they are on their way to Europe. 
The loss of the Australasian is a sad event. You will be glad to 
learn the universal satisfaction at the opinion expressed of the 
management by the Legation in London, and also of Mr. Seward's 
admirable diplomacy. Those who have not heretofore appeared 
always satisfied now express themselves as more than pleased. We 
all are hopeful as to the reception of the news in England. And 
every one is loud in praise at the conduct of all parties and their 
perfect submission to the Will of the Government, showing a strength 
in our Institutions greater than we could find elsewhere. 

The South alone have much of bitterness and disappointment to 
feel, they had every hope in our confusion and in the misstatements 
of their various representatives. 

We can perceive daily from the Southern Journals and the North- 
ern Reports the weakness of the South, and it is sad to think of the 
misery which the conduct of the ambitious rulers of the South have 
brought upon the innocent. Cotton begins to flow in. The large 
expeditions are about to move, and another week may be an event- 
ful one. 

You will doubtless be interested in the various messages, and 
reports of the various States and Cities. And I have the honor to 
be Respectfully Your obedient servant, 

Jonathan Amory. 

1 From the Adams mss. 


Haycraft to Adams. 1 

Walton-on-Thames, q January, 1862. 

Dear Sir, — I am truly glad that your Government has taken 
a right and proper course in delivering to the British Government 
Messrs. Mason and Slidell, and since the Northern States do not 
recognize the Southern States as Belligerents and therefore could 
not deal with the men as Contraband of War (and hence the Sur- 
render) yet your Government may surely claim them as Traitors, 
Rebels, found in the Act of Treason. This I trust you will do and 
give them the execution they deserve. Yours truly, 

Geo. Haycraft. 

Adams to Everett. 1 

London, 10 January, 1862. 

My dear Sir, — I have but a few moments to acknowledge the 
reception of yours of the 21st which contains a very thorough expo- 
sition of the state of things here. 

Captain Wilkes involved us in a great difficulty because he did 
precisely what our Government has always complained of Great 
Britain for doing. In order to justify him we were driven to the 
necessity of stultifying ourselves. As against Great Britain we might 
indeed make a strong argument. But this would leave us not the 
less exposed to the reproaches of all other maritime nations which 
have heretofore accepted our doctrines in good faith. This it is 
which constituted the strength of the paper of M. Thouvenel. Since 
then Prussia and Austria have joined the cry, and all the rest of 
Europe would follow, if necessary. In point of fact we were making 
a wrong issue. My great cause of apprehension was from the mani- 
fest tendency of the popular feeling at the outset. The Government 
has luckily extricated us in season. The current is setting for the 
moment in our favor. A strong reaction is visible, how long to last 
no one can tell. 

Parliament will soon meet when the new plan of operations will 
be disclosed. The measures will be on the one side to denounce the 
blockade, and to demand a recognition of the Confederates, and on 
the other to resist them. Which side the Ministry will take is not 
yet clear. I fancy they are not agreed among themselves. 

We are making a mistake at home in not reinforcing our friends 
here. Too much stress is laid on the Times which is notoriously 

1 From the Adams mss. 

ioii.J THE TRENT AFFAIR, NOVEMBER, l86l. 1 27 

against us. There is a great struggle going on among the press, 
and it should be our policy to magnify the opponents of that paper. 
The News and the Star should be quoted as English opinion in those 
great classes which represent the moral and religious sentiment. 
The country press has generally manifested a friendly disposition. 
Indeed it would not take a great deal more labor to make the Amer- 
ican question the lever to heave up foundations here. The fear of 
this is perhaps the best security we have for the preservation of 

We must therefore select any issues to be made with great care. 
The last one united everybody against us. The next, if we are to have 
any at all, must place us on the side of great principles, acknowledged 
by the spirit of the age, equally among the people of all civilized 

But I have no time to enlarge as the mail is preparing. Very 
truly yours, 

C. F. Adams. 

Adams to Forbes. 1 

London, 10 January, 1862. 

My dear Sir, — Thanks for yours of the 24th ult. and the in- 
closures. The decision of the Government, which I think perfectly 
sound, has smoothed the waters for the moment and has very much 
raised the spirits of our friends. We shall now fight the battles 
with more vigor than ever, but after all our success will depend 
upon that attending our military operations. 

In regard to sentiment in this country you should always bear it in 
mind that if we have enemies we have also friends. Any hostility 
levelled at all alike helps the former and depresses the latter. You 
will do well therefore to get the papers to print from the News and 
the Star rather than the Times and the Post. Much of the mischief 
done here comes from the dexterous use of the New York Herald 
by the Times. Do not permit our well-disposed presses to play into 
the hands of the latter by circulating its own malignity as the senti- 
ment of all England. 

The meeting of Parliament will open a new field of operations here. 
The Confederate emissaries calculating upon a war had arranged a 
programme of the most beneficial nature to themselves. The basis 
having disappeared, the superstructure is nowhere. But there is 
no doubt that the want of cotton and the distress of the operatives 
will cause a good deal of agitation. The same elements are at work 

1 John Murray Forbes. From the Adams mss. 


in France. The most effective counteractive will be heavy blows 
and the progress of emancipation. 

This is of course for your own reading only. . . . Very truly 

C. F. Adams. 


The Hall, Crewe, Cheshire. 
January ioth, 1862. 

My dear Sir, — I shall be obliged to you to express to Mr. 
Seward my thanks for the copy of the American Diplomatic Cor- 
respondence, which he has been good enough to forward to me — I 
suppose, through your mission. 

I hardly feel the same gratification in the intelligence of these 
last days, that I should of done, if I had been more apprehensive of 
unfortunate results. I never could agree with those English politi- 
cians who had persuaded themselves that Mr. Seward desired to 
drive this country into hostilities with yours, and who formed their 
opinions on this foregone conclusion. I trust we shall now hear no 
more of that theory. I watch the proceedings of your arms and 
politics with equal interest and earnestly desire the success of 
both. ... 

Rich. Monckton Milnes. 

Adams to Clay. 1 

London, 14 January, 1862/ 

My dear Mr. Clay, — I have to acknowledge the receipt of your 
favor of the 1st inst. for which I thank you. My situation has not, 
very certainly, been a particularly pleasant one during the con- 
tinuance of the difficulty about the Trent even if it were tolerable 
at any other time. That affair has been settled, and, as I think, 
correctly. For whatever opinion I may have of the consistency of 
Great Britain, or of the temper in which she has prosecuted her 
latest convictions, that does not in my judgment weigh a feather 
in the balance against the settled policy of the United States which 
has uniformly condemned every and any act like that of Captain 
Wilkes when authorised by other nations. The extension of the 
rights of neutrals on the ocean and the protection of them against 
the arbitrary exercise of mere power have been cardinal principles 

1 From the Adams mss. 

igii.] THE TRENT AFFAIR, NOVEMBER, 1 86 1. 1 29 

in the system of American statesmen ever since the foundation of 
the Government. It is not for us to abandon them under the tran- 
sient impulse given by the capture of a couple of unworthy traitors. 
What are they that a country like ours should swerve one hair from 
the line of its ancient policy, merely for the satisfaction of punish- 
ing them? In such a struggle they could lose nothing, for they 
have nothing to lose; whereas the Government of the United 
States might appear seriously to derogate from its dignity if on 
their account it were to involve itself in the necessity of disavowing 
the sound doctrines to which it has been heretofore pledged in 
order to embrace such as have become odious in the civilized world, 
even among the very people who were formerly the most strenuous 
assertors of them. 

I turn from this subject to the other and more personal matter 
touched upon in the latter portion of your letter. I pray you to be 
assured that I never entertained a suspicion of any design unfriendly 
to myself in the course you took in writing to the Times. I will 
frankly admit that I thought it in violation of the laws as well as 
of the general instructions to all foreign Ministers, a copy of which 
was transmitted to me prior to my departure from the United 
States. The prohibition from writing to the newspapers doubtless 
arose from experience of its bad effects heretofore had by the Depart- 
ment, and seems to me founded in reason. But of course it is no 
part of my duty to judge for anybody but myself. That your letter, 
and still more your speech in Paris did have a most unfavorable 
influence upon my labors at the commencement of my mission I 
had occasion to feel at every step. It gave our enemies an oppor- 
tunity to strike the key-note of determined hostility on the part of 
our Government to that of England which has been most dexter- 
ously used ever since, and which ultimately brought on the explosion 
in the case of the Trent. It likewise placed me in the false position 
of assuring this Ministry of our friendly disposition whilst other 
representatives of the Government equally entitled to credit were 
appealing to France by drawing distinctions unfriendly to England. 
At the same time I was conscious that they knew at the time the 
utter want of the foundation for your discrimination, the two Gov- 
ernments having been from the first in perfect understanding with 
one another as to their policy towards America. You may well 
imagine then how much use was made of all this to fix upon Mr. 
Seward the suspicion of bad faith and of secret hostility to England 
which no efforts of mine have had any success in eradicating. Indeed 
nothing but the publication of his Despatches and his late action 
in regard to the Trent has done anything to open the eyes even of 



our friends here as to the actual truth. I am in hopes that from 
this date we shall be able to arrive at a better understanding with 
the Ministry who as a whole are not unfriendly, whatever may be 
the disposition of some of the individual members. But it will not 
come about by exalting the good will of France, far less, in fact, to 
be depended upon. 

It is then, as I trust you will see, solely on public grounds that I 
have found anything to regret in your action and not from any 
personal feeling whatever. Indeed I so well understand your motives 
that I should never have thought of once making an allusion to 
the matter had you not opened it yourself. 

It gives me great pleasure to learn that the disposition of the 
Emperor of Russia continues so friendly. I take the more interest 
in it that I remember it was my father who first laid the foundations 
of that good understanding which has existed without interruption 
for half a century. The two countries are now engaged in the same 
great work. They ought to sympathize with one another in their 
severe trials. . . . 

C. F. Adams. 

Palfrey to Adams. 1 

Boston, 1862, January 14th. 

Dear Mr. Adams, — You inform me that you have come into 
relations of some intimacy with Mr. Parkes. I am very glad to 
hear it, not only because I like him very much, as I cannot fail to 
do on account of his great kindnesses to me when I was in London 
and since, but because I think you may find his acquaintance ad- 
vantageous for your public objects. He has excellent sources of 
information. His judgment, to infer from what he observes, is 
good. His mind is liberal. His purposes are generous. He is well 
disposed towards our country. And he has relations to the news- 
paper press which enable him, on occasion, to speak a timely and 
useful word. 

In a few days we shall be informed of the reception in England 
of intelligence of the surrender of the ^^-ambassadors. Con- 
trary to English expectation, you will have seen that that measure 
here has encountered nothing that can be called opposition. Mr. 
Hale, in the Senate, 2 expressed dissatisfaction with it, and in the 

1 From the Adams mss. 

2 "To my mind, a more fatal act [the surrender of Mason and Slidell] could 
not mark the history of this country — an act that would surrender at once to 
the arbitrary demand of Great Britain all that was won in the Revolution, 
reduce us to the position of a second-rate Power, and make us the vassal of 

lgii.] THE TRENT AFFAIR, NOVEMBER, l86l. 131 

House there have been some little manifestations of discontent. 
But undoubtedly it has been acquiesced in by the country with 
promptness and alacrity. The prevalent feeling is that a great 
imminent trouble has been escaped by a course actually involving 
no dishonor, and promising to be highly advantageous in future 
complications. There appears to be no general apprehension that 
England will not for the present be satisfied. But, on the other 
hand, I am struck with the extensive prevalence, and the strength, 
of the conviction that the tone of feeling in England is permanently 
hostile. The practical inference from this is the necessity of large 
outlays for coast and lake defences and for a navy. I now expect to 
see this, — and to the same end, the fostering of American manufac- 
tures — the policy of the country, as long as I live. Mr. Bright's 
elaborate speech is extremely pleasant for its bearings on the present, 
but of course cannot sufficiently reassure for the future. Oh si sic. 
omnes ! 

This morning we are taken by surprize with the news of the 
resignation of Mr. Cameron. 1 There will be great curiosity to know 
whether he goes out because the charge of some jobs presses him 
too hard, or because of his forward position on the Slavery question. 
. . . Yours, faithfully, 

J. G. Palfrey. 

Dana to Adams. 2 

Cambridge, Sunday, January 19, 1862. 

My dear Sir, — The day I received your letter, I left for Wash- 
ington, to attend the Supreme Court, and returned last night. I 
seize the first opportunity to write you, because I owe it to you to 
make the earliest acknowledgment that you were right and I was 
wrong in the matter of the Trent. Mr. Seward is not only right, 
but sublime. It was a little too sublimated, dephlegmated and 
defecated for common mortals, but I bow to it, as to a superior 
intelligence. You saw the question as a statesman, I only as a 

I heard Sumner's speech. 3 It is the best thing for his popularity 

Great Britain. I would go as far as any reasonable man would go for peace, 
but no further. I would not be unwilling to submit this subject to the arbitra- 
tion of any of the great Powers of Europe; but I would not submit to the arbi- 
trary, the absolute demand of Great Britain, to surrender these men, and humble 
our flag even to escape from a war with Great Britain." Hon. John P. Hale, 
December 26, 1861. Congressional Globe, 2nd Sess., 37th Cong., 176. 

1 Stanton took office January 15, 1862. 2 From the Adams MSS. 

3 In the Senate, January 9, 1862. It is in his Works, vi. 169. 


and reputation that he has done. It was the first opportunity he 
has had to speak without offending half the nation. It was de- 
sireable to have not only America but Europe see that the surrender 
was on principle, and not from fear; and Sumner's speech will do 
a great deal in that direction. I do not agree to his law, or rather, 
perhaps, we do not mean the same thing by the word law. He 
cites treaties, but they are mostly made to modify or clear up the 
law. He cites diplomatic correspondence, which often indicates the 
efforts of one nation to obtain a declaration of doubtful law, or to 
effect changes in it, or to make a new rule for new cases, quite as 
much as it indicates a deliberate, impartial judgment of what the law 
is. He ignores adjudged cases, and cites a few extracts from com- 
mentators and diplomatists which are not all logically applicable. 
The Anglo-Saxon mind defers to adjudged cases, as the best evi- 
dence of pre-existing law. Not so the mind of Continental Europe; 
and the latter is Sumner's storehouse. I told him I preferred Mr. 
Seward's law to his, because I am a sailor and a fighter, while his 
object was to keep as near as he can to the "True Glory of Na- 
tions," and have no war, if possible, and if we must fight, to use 
blank cartridges as much as we can. On the sea, war is stripped 
of all its horrors, to non-combatants, women, children, homes, 
graves, churches, fields, the sanctuaries of life, the basket and 
the store, the wounded and the dying. It touches only those 
men, enlisted combatants, who go down to the sea to fight; and 
with them it is seldom, and soon over. To all others, it is a mere 
money question, of loss of property which has been intentionally, 
and knowingly subjected to a war risk, for the sake of profit. I 
believe that the most mild and humane form of war is the coercion 
of your enemy by material distress. I believe in your right to drive 
him off the highway, to keep him to his own soil and freehold, and 
to test the flag, the papers and the conduct of all neutrals. Sum- 
ner's happy vagueness, and felicitous, warm, rose-colored haze, 
enables him to talk peace, where there is and can be no peace, and 
prophecy perpetual calm weather on the ocean. 

Am I not right in deducing from the Trent case, as treated by 
Seward, these positions? 

1. The right of search by cruisers; and no exception established 
in favor of vessels that carry mails as well as passengers and cargo. 

2. That the errand of Messrs. Mason and Slidell was of such a 
character as to make them, in the act of transit, quasi-contraband; 
so that the attempt to give them the needed transportation, with 
full knowledge of the circumstances, was an act of hostility which 
should forfeit the vessel, if taken in delicto. 

191 1.] THE TRENT AFFAIR, NOVEMBER, l86l. 133 

3. The making such persons prisoners of war, when discovered 
on the above search, is not dependent or conditioned on the judicial 
condemnation of the vessel, or on the taking in of the vessel for ad- 
judication, either by admitted law of nations, or in reason. 

4. On the question whether such emissaries, discovered in this 
manner, on their way to their places of destination, are to be held 
as prisoners of war, it is immaterial whether the termini of the 
vessel's voyage were neutral ports or otherwise, the men being in 
transitu for their destination, and the vessel knowingly taking them 
on their way, and discovered in delicto. 

5. The Spirit of the Law of Nations requires of the belligerent 
an adjudication, if possible, in his own courts, on all maritime ques- 
tions touching neutrals. It is desireable, and most in accordance 
with American history and policy, to extend this requirement. A 
direct adjudication on the persons cannot be had; but, by bringing 
in the vessel as prize, it is probable (not certain) that, indirectly, 
the Court may pass on the status of the persons. Even this proba- 
bility of an indirect judicial finding is worth preserving, both as an 
international pacification, and for effect on the mind of the captur- 
ing officer. Let the rule then be, not that the bringing in of the 
persons is conditioned on the bringing in of the vessel, but that it 
shall be the duty of the captor, when he takes such prisoners, also 
to bring in the vessel, from which duty, only what the law would 
recognize as a necessity shall excuse him. 

6. In this case, the release of the Trent was not solely and clearly on 
the ground of necessity. Therefore to make good the above rule, 
the prisoners should be restored to the neutral, if he demands them. 

The result, then, is that Capt. Wilkes was right in every point 
but the failure to bring in the vessel; and, as to that, he violated no 
established rule, and was justified by British precedents, therefore 
it is no case for an apology, but an opportunity for establishing the 
first precedent for a rule which is consonant with our traditional 
policy, and most for the peace of the world. 

This is my analysis of Mr. Seward's admirable paper. It puts 
the law where I have always supposed it to be; and I yield grate- 
fully to the result, as a matter of enlarged general policy for the 
good of the world. You see, therefore, that I do not mean to say 
that I was wrong on the law, but that you saw what I did not, that 
beyond and clear of established law, consistency and enlarged policy 
enabled us to make this a precedent for a new rule. I thought it 
was a dilemma and that unless we had violated what England could 
show to be a law of nations, we could not give up the men on her 


You notice the two small coals we have put on John Bull's head, 
the offer of passage for his troops through Maine, 1 and the paying 
for the Perthshire. The feeling as to the gross inconsistency of 
England, and her taking advantage of our distress to initiate a 
war, or an attitude of war, so as to aid in dividing our empire, — 
this feeling is deeply seated on people, but so far as the Govern- 
ment is concerned, a settlement is a settlement. 

I think the atmosphere of Washington improved the few last 
days I was there. The appointment of Stanton and the retirement 
of Cameron, raised the tone everywhere; and the conference of the 
financiers ended in an agreement in favor of a large and honest 
direct tax, and against throwing into the currency millions in de- 
mand-notes, without interest, and made legal tender, and necessarily 
depreciating. This result also raised confidence, and will continue 
it, if carried out successfully. There is restlessness and uneasiness 
about the conduct of the war, but I do not give in to that to its full 
extent, and hope much of Stanton. His appointment is significant 
also of an abandonment of party lines. . . . 

One word would put all right, and that is tone, tone. We have 
none. We must have it, or be justly despised. With great respect, 
I am Yours very truly, 

Rich. H. Dana, Jr. 

Kennedy to Winthrop. 2 

Baltimore, January 21, 1862. 
My dear Winthrop: 

W T e shall soon hear of the reception in England of the Mason- 
Slidell settlement. I was greatly gratified by Seward's letter which 
I thought adroit and masterly, and I entirely agree in the propriety 
and justice of the settlement. When I wrote you in December, I 
spoke against the surrender of the prisoners, as a thing not to be 
thought of under the conditions upon which the English press rep- 
resented the purpose to make the demand. I wrote too hastily, 
perhaps, to advert to the qualifications with which the subject might 
be brought to the attention of our Government. I was full of the 
idea that we were to have a peremptory and humiliating demand to 
which we could not with honor submit, — no matter what might 
be the merits of the case. But when the question was presented in 
a totally different form, with all the courtesy due to our position, 
I did not object to the fair and candid review of it, given by the 

1 Bancroft, Seward, 11. 245. 2 From the Winthrop mss. 


Secretary, and fully concurred in his view that it concerned our 
honor and respect for justice to decide the case with a judicial im- 
partiality. In doing so I think we have rather gained a triumph 
over the passionate prejudice of Mr. Bull, and, perhaps, astounded 
him with a demonstration that our government is quite as free from 
a terror of the mob as his own — perhaps even more. Besides that, 
we have gained an important vantage-ground over him for any future 
contest we may have with him on that long disputed point of his 
assumed belligerent rights. I suppose they will not admit that in 
England; but I think it will be so regarded on the Continent of 
Europe and that the settlement will make us friends there. 

I feel as you do upon the development of the private and public 
sentiment which this event has evoked in England. It has proved 
to us, notwithstanding the kindly sympathy for our cause which is 
honestly felt and openly expressed by certain portions of English 
society and many estimable individuals, that there is a wide-spread 
unfriendliness against us, in the most active and influential circles, 
and that it furnishes us a wholesome warning against future trust, 
either in the good will or the sincerity of the nation when loudest in 
its professions of respect. Nothing could be more ungenerous, to 
say the least of it, than this revelation of a wish to strike us at such 
a moment as the present. One may find much in the history of the 
last twenty years interpreted by the acts of today, to accuse England 
of a perfidious intent to compass our destruction. She fomented the 
abolition sentiment, harked its agents on to persevering assaults 
upon the peace of the Slave States, aided in bringing this discontent 
to a violent issue, and then, having embroiled us in the quarrel, 
turned to the opposite side; and has ever since been captiously seek- 
ing pretexts to consummate our destruction by an active sympathy 
with the Slave interest, which we may conclude she will betray at 
the first moment after the mischief she meditated is fully accom- 
plished. These are the suspicions to which she has laid herself 
open, and from which it will take a long-time practice of more 
generosity than we can now give her credit for, to relieve herself. 
Per fide Albion I . . . 

John P. Kennedy. 

Adams to Everett. 1 

London, 24 January, 1862. 
My dear Sir, — The case of Mason and Slidell seems to me to 
have done good in one particular. It has led to the practical sur- 
render by all nations of the right of search on board of neutral 
1 From the Adams mss. 


vessels to take out men. This of course is for the benefit of the 
weaker parties in securing them from the tyranny of the great 
powers. Among the latter none has shown itself more dangerous 
on the ocean than Great Britain. It suits her now to hold up neutral 
rights. The moment is propitious to obtain concessions which may 
prove not a little embarrassing to her and beneficial to us on the 
happening of a quarrel with France, an event certain to occur in 
due course of time, no matter what the labour to prevent it. 

There is no doubt that a large party has been deeply disappointed 
by the issue of this affair. But it is not discouraged. There is an 
avidity manifest to catch some new pretext which breaks out daily 
in the columns of several newspapers more or less associated with 
the cause of the rebels. The blocking up of Charleston harbor has 
figured for a week as the most barbarous event of the age. Un- 
luckily for the fate of this story a rebel vessel has just come in 
from Charleston and makes light of the obstacle. The wind forth- 
with changes and we are told of the inefficiency of the blockade. 
And so it goes on and will go until there is a manifestation of strength 
in the field that defies contradiction. Just at this moment the 
accounts from the South come rather dark and there is a lull in 
the storm. The conclusion which I draw is that the military events 
of the next six weeks will determine the action of all the European 

Meanwhile it is not to be disguised that ill-will to us spreads 
rather than declines. I think a majority of the Ministry is steady 
to the purpose of non-intervention. I am not quite sure that the 
chief is of that side. But it is generally understood that Prince 
Albert's views by no means countenanced hostility to us, as a point 
of national policy, and that the Queen is more devoted to executing 
his notions now than she was even in his life. Her most confidential 
advisers remain of his opinion. The effect of this is felt not only 
in subduing the temper of the Premier, but also in restraining the 
ardor of the opposition. Lord Derby and his friends, relying on the 
expectant policy as the sole channel through which to reach any 
durable possession of power, are disinclined to any positive com- 
mittal which might raise obstacles to success otherwise regarded 
as certain. So far the favorable side of the picture. On the other 
hand there is the grim spectre of democracy, the ingrained jealousy 
of American power, and the natural pugnacity of John Bull, all 
working with force in three great classes of the community to the 
same end, the striking a blow where it will tell. Between these con- 
flicting powers it is not easy to say where the preponderance will 
rest. In my belief events will alone decide the question. 


As for the London Times, it is idle to hope for any fair dealing in 
that quarter. Its policy in the present instance is in humble imita- 
tion of that of Count de Vergennes, to secure the division of the 
Union as an essential security to the peace of Europe and the pre- 
ponderance of Great Britain. If our American friends in Europe 
have not had enough of trials to soften it, their stock of evidence 
of the things not seen must be infinite. . . . Very truly yours, 

C. F. Adams. 

Duke of Argyll to Adams. 1 

Private. London, January 25/62. 

Dear Mr. Adams, — I have read my excellent Friend Sumner's 
Speech with much interest and some amusement. 

I have no objection to any amount of scolding on account of our 
former practice in respect to Impressment, because it is a doctrine 
and a practice which we have long abandoned on our own soil, and 
which it is not likely we could ever renew in respect to neutral 

But it is curious that Sumner should not see, what is obvious 
from his own statement of the case, that we might (logically) re- 
sume that practice tomorrow without acting inconsistently with 
any thing we have said or done in the case of the Trent. 

Sumner starts with a mistake on a point of fact. He assumes (no 
doubt from our own Press) that we objected to the act of Capt. 
Wilkes only on the narrow and technical ground, that the ship was 
not taken into Port. 

But this is not the fact. This is a very minor objection, tho' so 
far as it goes, a sound one. 

But the real objection I hold to be a much stronger one, viz., 
that a neutral vessel, with a bona fide, neutral destination, cannot 
contain contraband of war at all, and that civilians, especially, 
bound for a neutral country cannot, under any circumstances, be 
held to be subject to seizure as Contraband. 

I venture to affirm that no decision of any of our Judges, nor 
any act of our Government can be cited as inconsistent with this 

The "Stopping of an Ambassador" is a mere misquotation from 
Lord Stowell. He does not affirm that an Ambassador may be 
stopped wherever he may be caught. He merely says that He may 
be stopped if he comes, or places Himself, within your lawful 

1 From the Adams mss. 


Sumner never even alludes to the destination of a Vessel as affect- 
ing the question of Contraband on board of her. Yet all Lord 
Stowell's decisions, when adverse, were founded on the fact that the 
destination was a belligerent one: — with only a colourable neutral 

It is quite true that our objections to the act of Capt. Wilkes are 
objections consistent with American Principles. But they are 
equally consistent with our own: and would not interfere with 
the continued assertion of all our old doctrines on the subject of 

The Impressment doctrine was wholly separate. Yours very 


Higginson to Adams. 1 

Boston, January 31st, 1862. 

My dear Sir, — I beg leave to recall myself to your recollection 
by thanking you as an American for the attitude taken in your in- 
terview with Earl Russell on the 19th of December, as indicated in 
his dispatch of that date published in our papers this morning. 

Plain talk is the best talk for John Bull. Such at least has been 
my experience commercially. 

As to the Trent affair, Mr. Sumner's noble exposition of the 
American policy, as contrasted with that of England, yields a com- 
pleteness of satisfaction in the result that was not exactly afforded 
by Mr. Seward's dispatch. 

Your correspondence will doubtless inform you how profoundly 
the contemptible course of England throughout our troubles, — 
culminating in this insolent demand at the cannon's mouth, — has 
been felt here in Boston and New England, where English proclivi- 
ties were probably stronger than anywhere else in the United States. 

For myself, though bred to English preferences, and though these 
have been strengthened by valued English friendships, I am not 
sure that I shall ever know England again except as Napoleon's 
nation of shopkeepers, or De Tocqueville's nation of hide-bound 
egotists. Many and admirable exceptions do not reverse the rule. 
You may be sure that this revulsion of lifelong sentiments is a com- 
mon process hereabouts in these times. 

But I will not occupy more of your time, except to add my good 
wishes for your welfare and official success. Very Sincerely Yours, 

Stephen Higginson. 

1 From the Adams mss. 

I 9 i I.] THE TRENT AFFAIR, NOVEMBER, 1 86 1. 1 39 

Winthrop to Kennedy. 1 

Boston, i February, 1862. 

I am sorry to find the fashionables of Baltimore continue so un- 
reasonable. Your city seems as likely to be famous for its rebels 
as it used to be for its belles. What a world of good those women 
could do, if a change of heart could only come over them! I do be- 
lieve, that if a feeling of genuine good-will towards the Union could 
once more be established in Maryland, and more particularly in 
its great Commercial Metropolis, — if the Monumental City could 
thoroughly renew its allegiance to the Government established and 
defended by those whom its columns and statues commemorate, — 
we should begin to see the end of this horrid War. Next to a great 
victory over the rebel armies, we want a conquest over the rebel 
hearts. Is there no moral or religious influence which can be brought 
to bear upon them? Your Catholic Archbishop should take the 
matter in hand, and Whittingham 2 should co-operate. 

We are threatened with another difficulty. In that extraordinary 
budget of Diplomatic Correspondence, of which not more than a 
dozen pages ought ever to have been published, and not more than 
two dozen pages ought ever to have been written, Seward has pro- 
claimed again and again that a recognition of the South by England 
or France is War, and that Adams and Dayton are, in such event, 
to immediately withdraw from their posts. Such a declaration was 
unwise at any time, and only to be excused when the rebellion had 
just broken out, and when we hoped to extinguish it before mid- 
summer. It will never do to act upon it now. Recognition at an 
early moment is an offence, — but it is one we have always given 
to others; it is not in itself cause of war and it would be madness, 
at this late day, so to treat it. There is no inconsistency in the Ad- 
ministration's withdrawing from a position, which is a standing men- 
ace, and more likely to precipitate recognition than to delay it. 
The lapse of time is sufficient cause for changing front, which might 
be done quietly and confidentially; but we ought not to be exposed 
to the danger of War, in case France receives Slidell, as I am much 
afraid she will. Mere recognition is nothing, and will do no harm 
save in so far as it gives moral courage and confidence to the South. 
The truth is, we have somehow or other lost the good-will of the world. 
We can not do without it, and must make some sacrifices to recover 
it. It seems to me of the greatest importance at this moment, that 
while we do our best to avert a recognition by kind words abroad 

1 From the Winthrop mss. 

2 William Rollinson Whittingham (1805-1879). 


and strong blows at home, we should also be prepared to meet 
recognition, if it comes, and from whatever quarter it comes, in a 
quiet, nonchalant manner, — as a thing that can do us no harm, 
and that we have now no right to resent, however much we may 
regret it. We ourselves have taught the world to patronize rebel- 
lions by early recognitions, and we ought to be prepared to take it 
with a silent shrug, reserving our wrath for greater occasion. You 
are so near Washington, you can run down and have a talk with 
Seward about it. . . . 

Robert C. Winthrop. 

Adams to Dana. 1 

London, 6 February, 1862. 

My dear Sir, — I thank you heartily for yours of the 19th, the 
only one (by the way) that I received by this steamer. 

Before this arrives you will have seen the reply of Lord Russell 
to Mr. Seward's Despatch, as well as his Note to Lord Lyons of the 
19th of December giving an abstract of a conversation between 
him and myself on that day. You will note at the close of it an 
intimation of mine made in a much more good-natured way than 
would appear from that naked statement, that whilst I thought 
France consistent, as a neutral, with her general policy in former 
days, I could not compliment Great Britain so much upon her 
latest position. To which his Lordship quietly replied that they 
would readily dispense with compliments provided they could 
secure their object. 

In this nutshell you see comprised the entire public policy of 
the country. It is English and nothing else. Hence it is that when 
it was convenient to make a law on the ocean which should, so far 
as it could, cut up all neutral rights, especially in America, Lord 
Stowell stood ready to sanction any and everything that the Minis- 
terial policy of that day required for the protection of England. 
But now that it has pleased their successors to erect themselves 
into neutrals for the sake of pushing their navigation into the place 
of ours, the law officers of the Crown stand equally ready to turn 
their backs on all the musty decisions of their predecessors, and to 
proclaim a bran-new doctrine, precisely suited to the purpose in 
hand. In this pursuit they are content to forego the barren tribute 
of praise in consideration of their securing the solid pudding of 
national profit. 

And thus hath it ever been in the foreign dealings of our canny 

1 From the Adams mss. 


parent! With much to admire in her, both of good and great, it 
is not to be denied that in reference to foreign countries her eye is 
generally set upon the main chance. Compliments are very well, 
but results are better. 

So far as I comprehend the legitimate position of Great Britain 
as taken under the old law recognized between nations down to 
this day, it rests upon two desperate quibbles. 

The first is that the act of search was not completed. The viola- 
tion of law consisted in not doing enough. If the offence had been 
greater, the grievance would have been less. If men, despatches 
and property had been adjudicated upon, the seizure might have 
been proved legitimate, or at the worst, justifiable. 

The second is that the men were going to a neutral country, in a 
ship starting from a neutral territory. Ergo, there was no evidence 
of injurious intention. Surely a man intent on mischief in a foreign 
country could scarcely be caught in any other course than that 
which leads towards it. Neither is the character of that mischief 
changed, whether he go on a straight line, or pass on a right angle 
at the point of which should be placed another person's land ! 

In both cases the spirit of the law is equally overlooked. The 
object being one equally interesting to all nations, the prevention 
of harm to themselves, from the abuse by their enemies of the 
privileges conceded to third parties refusing to mix themselves up 
in the quarrel, it was fair to presume that once it was conceded to 
be just, the necessary means to attain it were of course implied. 
Hence the principle of the right of search in time of war. But this 
power being in its practical exercise liable to great abuse, the limita- 
tions upon it must be not merely good faith, but the ratification of 
some competent tribunal. Such being the theory, let us apply it 
to the case of the Trent. There is no evidence to show that Captain 
Wilkes transgressed the limitation, excepting in the failure to leave 
open his action for subsequent adjudication. To call his course an 
outrage is then simply preposterous. And to complain of it for the 
reasons given, is pretty much on a footing with a quarrel with a 
man for pursuing a debt because it may have been contracted on 
a Sunday. 

I am stating this, you observe, simply on the ground of under- 
stood international law as heretofore established by Great Britain. 
The position now taken by her that the vessel is sacred because a 
mail-packet is something wholly new, and grows out of the changed 
nature of ocean-navigation between the great countries of the 
world. There is no such exception made in any of the books. No 
belligerent heretofore would have hesitated in seizing the mail- 


coach and mail-bags crossing a neutral territory on the continent, 
if thereby he could possess himself of the person or the despatches 
of an enemy's ambassador. The thing has been done over and over. 
The assumption that a mail steamer is free from the right of search 
(for it amounts to that) is then a new interpolation into the law 
for the benefit of Great Britain which is doing its best to monopo- 
lise the article on the ocean. I do not say that it is a bad principle. 
On the contrary I approve it. But what I do say is that it is British 
law enunciated now as it always has been, to meet the especial 
emergency for its own benefit. And so it is in every other part 
of the case of the Trent. Whilst I consent to the result as in har- 
mony with my opinion of the merits of the case, it in no way exalts 
my ideas of the system into which it has for the first time been 
incorporated. Doubtless you have long since perceived in my turn 
of mind little tendency to admiration of the foreign policy of the 
mother country. She blundered dreadfully in her course towards 
us during and immediately after the revolution. She might have 
subdued us morally after she ceased to attempt force. She pre- 
ferred a different course, which was the means of maldng us a 
United nation. Still later she might have had our sympathy and 
even our aid in the struggle she carried on so long and so painfully 
with the power of Napoleon. Instead of it she chose to irritate us 
into enmity and war. And just so is it now. She might have con- 
ciliated us by a very small amount of sincere and hearty kindness 
in the midst of our distresses. She has deliberately preferred to 
sit as a cold spectator, ready to make the best of our calamity the 
moment there is a sufficient excuse to interfere. I do trust that in 
this last as in the two former cases, the result may be to bring round 
a consequence, the direct opposite of all her expectations. 

I have written so much on this subject as to cut off much that 
I meant to say on the other topics of your letter. As to Sumner's 
speech, it was very good, but it has cost him his favor here. No 
paper has ventured to print it, and the Times indulges in its cus- 
tomary courtesy when alluding to it. As to your other observations 
upon the state of things at Washington, I keenly feel their justice. 
But it seems to me from this distance as if the course was improving 
all the time. Slowly perhaps but still certainly. In this hope I 
try to live, and to bear my troubles here, until the moment come 
which I shall hail with no little satisfaction, when I can return to 
the quiet life of former times in our good city of Boston. Very 
truly yours, 

C. F. Adams. 


The English Press. 

W. H. Russell, in a letter to the Times dated Washington, Decem- 
ber 19, 1 86 1, stated that the Queen's Messenger, bearing the British 
ultimatum, arrived before ten o'clock of the previous evening. He 
then goes on to say: "The members of Congress most averse from 
such a war are the very men who are most jealous of American 
honor, and yet they do not see how the Government can comply with 
a demand for the restoration of Mason and Slidell to the shelter of 
the British flag. This Government has compromised itself to that 
point. The only Minister who reports to the Congress directly is 
the Secretary of the Treasury. All the other Secretaries send in 
their reports through the President, who by the act adopts their 
language, inasmuch as he can strike out whatever he does not ap- 
prove. Now in the report of the Secretary of the Navy there was 
the most unqualified approval and adoption of Captain Wilkes's 
act, which is therefore approved and adopted by the President of 
the United States." . . . 

"On all hands it is now admitted that the offence was at once 
insult and wrong, and it is no great triumph, therefore, that it 
should have been followed by reparation. If we had had to deal 
with a friendly and courteous people, we should have had no occa- 
sion for preparations for war. If a French or an English captain, 
while the two nations are upon their present terms, were to gratify 
a crack-brained freak or an insane thirst of notoriety by some 
piratical outrage against the foreign flag, neither Government 
would wait to see whether any miserable advantage could be gained 
by the circumstance. The act would be at once disavowed, and 
the booty returned, with apologies and compensation. This was the 
course which if Federal America had been courteous or even shrewd, 
Federal America would have pursued. Mr. Seward missed a great 
opportunity when he failed to act as a European statesman would 
have acted under similar circumstances. At this moment there is 
no great sympathy here for either party. The attraction we feel 
towards a weaker nation invaded by a stronger and a richer nation is 
repelled by the very general detestation of slavery ; and if Mr. 
Seward had seized the opportunity for a graceful and a courteous 
act we would not answer for how far our countrymen might have 
been tempted from their rigorous neutrality. It was a gross blunder 
for the shrewd Minister of a shrewd people to miss the chance of a 
great advantage only to do the same act at last under circumstances 
of unavoidable humiliation." Leader in the Times, January 9, 1862. 


"If they had disavowed the seizure and given up the men at once, 
the American Government would have done much towards placing 
its flag under the protection of right and justice. But they kept the 
men till they had done for the South services far greater than they 
could possibly have performed had they been left at liberty. The 
men who in all probability would not have been able to effect any- 
thing by their advocacy with the Governments of England and 
France, became, when placed in prison, the most persuasive of mis- 
sionaries, and made converts to Southern principles by mixing them 
up with the doctrines recognized by all nations." Leader in the 
Times, January 13, 1862. 

"When it appeared that, under the name of defending the rights 
of neutrals, he had committed himself to propositions which would 
subject a packet-ship carrying a Confederate agent from Dover to 
Calais to be captured and taken to New York, it was felt that his [Sec- 
retary Seward's] own paper was its own best refutation, and that no 
reply could make clearer its utter absurdity. . . . 

" The propositions upon which Mr. Seward had insisted were these: 
First, that 'Ambassadors from a belligerent to a neutral nation, sail- 
ing in a neutral vessel, from a neutral port to a neutral port are con- 
traband of war ' ; secondly, ' that a neutral packet-ship carrying 
such Ambassadors from neutral port to neutral port is liable to be 
taken into port and confiscated'; thirdly, that if 'in the opinion 
of the Minister of a belligerent Power the safety of that Power de- 
mands the detention of persons illegally captured by the violation 
of a neutral flag, it is the right and duty of the belligerent nation to 
detain them.' These are the three propositions with which Lord 
Russell, assisted by the Law Officers of the Crown, had to deal. Per- 
haps it might have been sufficient to protest that, with regard to the 
first position, 'Her Majesty's Government differ entirely from Mr. 
Seward.' But the American Minister had enveloped his doctrine in 
a show of authorities. Now there are two classes of persons who 
misuse precedents. The first are flagrantly dishonest minds, who, 
when at a loss for a case in point, invent one and publish it to the 
world as authentic; the others are minds of such imperfect discipline 
and narrow purview that they cannot see the general character and 
ruling principle, but catch hold tenaciously of some single circum- 
stance or striking word, and hold fast to it. Mr. Everett and Mr. 
George Sumner are the most recent public examples of the former 
kind of controversialists — Mr. Seward is an eminent instance of 
the latter. Let us take a single instance. Mr. Seward had found 
out that there were two cases in which Sir William Scott had laid 


it down as law that 'you may stop the Ambassador of your enemy 
on his passage' and that * civil functionaries if sent for a purpose 
intimately connected with the hostile operations, may be dealt 
with as if they had been belligerents.' Mr. Seward, seizing upon 
these words, draws the conclusion that Sir William Scott's author- 
ity would justify him in seizing an Ambassador wherever he can 
get at him — a construction which involves the absurd sequence 
that you might take him out of neutral territory, or out of a ship of 
war, or out of a neutral ship of commerce, — that you may hunt an 
Ambassador, in fine, wherever he may be. Lord Russell rectifies the 
construction by simply pointing to the authority cited. That au- 
thority supplies the essential limitation, — ' You may attach and 
arrest these persons wherever your right to exercise acts of hostility 
exists.' This right exists on board the Sumter or on shore at New 
Orleans, but certainly not on board English packet-ships. The in- 
tention of Sir William Scott, of course, was to decide that an Ambas- 
sador had no special protection in his enemies' country, but was 
liable to be seized, like any other alien enemy. Mr. Seward produces 
the words to show that you may seize Ambassadors under neutral 
flags, and claims this right as a provision in favor of neutrals. 

" When Lord Russell has, in like manner, and with equal conclu- 
siveness got rid of Mr. Seward's other authorities, the unsupported 
propositions stand alone in their naked absurdity; and there is now no 
danger that any future belligerent will make any similar claims ' on 
behalf of neutral rights,' or trespass upon Mr. Seward's line of argu- 
mentation. We shall never again hear it seriously contended that a 
nation, by declaring war against another nation, can cut off all the 
kingdoms of the earth from their right to diplomatic intercourse 
with its own particular enemy. We shall never again find a preten- 
sion set up to treat diplomatic intercourse with an enemy as a 
breach of neutrality in a neutral. These claims were put forward 
for the first time by the Minister of that great maritime and com- 
mercial Power whose interest has always been to extend the rights 
of neutrals, and to narrow the privileges of belligerents. They have 
been put forward by a minister who seems to have been as ignorant 
of the real interests of his country as he has shown himself incapable 
of reading the textwriters, or understanding the principles of de- 
cided cases. Our interest is all the other way. When we are at war, 
our whole force is on the seas, and every belligerent right over neutrals 
counts for double, to us, what it would to any other Power. The very 
best thing for our power would have been to give Mr. Seward's ab- 
surdities the force of International Law. But not even the authority 



of England could have impressed the stamp of currency upon such 
nonsense. We have sometimes in our character of belligerents 
made strong claims, and have drawn upon us the hostility of the 
world, but we never claimed to stop neutral ships and seize our 
enemies out of them, as they were fleeing to a friendly country. 
We certainly never, in the highest flight of arrogance, declared that, 
if our safety demanded it we should claim a right to set all neu- 
trality at nought, and exercise lawless violence alike over friend 
and foe. 

" When dealing with such a reasoner as this, it is necessary not 
only to make our proofs clear, but also to make our resolves unmis- 
takeable. Mr. Seward may, perchance, still be impervious to the 
reasonings contained in this State paper, although every European 
statesman will accept them as conclusive; but even he may learn 
from it what for the future he must not attempt to do. Lord Russell 
is very explicit to the effect that, if a British ship be bona fide bound 
to a neutral port, no men, and no despatches, will be allowed to be 
captured by any American cruisers. Lord Russell also declares, 
without hesitation, that ' to detain, disturb or interfere with packets 
engaged in the postal service — when sailing in the ordinary and 
innocent course of their legitimate employment, which consists in 
the conveyance of mails and passengers — would be an act of a 
most noxious and injurious character to the public interests of neu- 
tral Governments.' These are acts which Mr. Seward is warned 
not to be betrayed by his own bad reasons ever again to attempt. 
To Mr. Seward's strange declaration that he is prepared, under 
certain circumstances to disregard all law, there is no answer to be 
given but that which Lord Russell gives — namely, that Great 
Britain would not have submitted to the perpetration of any such 
act. The answer is very complete, but the contemporaneous arrival 
of the persons who had been kidnapped is a commentary which 
goes far to supersede the text. 1 Practically, the declaration as to 
the inviolability of mail packets is the most important portion of 
this document, for it gives grave sanction to a doctrine which before 
rested only on the slender authority of a modern French jurist. This 
is very important. The rest was only necessary to efface the blot 
which Mr. Seward's ignorance had thrown over the public law of 
Christendom." — Leader in the Times, January 30, 1862. 

1 Mason and Slidell, with their secretaries, reached Southampton, January 
29, on the Royal Mail Company's steamship La Plata, the very vessel they 
would have taken but for Captain Wilkes' action. It was the La Plata which 
brought to England, November 27, the first news of the arrest of the Confed- 
erate agents. 


The attitude and utterances of the English press at this period 
were something difficult to realize, as respects rudeness and con- 
temptuous insolence. For example, here are three extracts taken at 
random from issues of the papers; one before the occurrence of the 
Trent affair, one while it was still unsettled, and one shortly after 
the incident was closed. They are merely examples taken at random, 
and in no way exceptional. The first is from the Saturday Review of 
October 6, 1861 : " We do not agree with the Times in thinking that 
England stands in American opinion on the level of the least favored 
nation. We believe, on the contrary, that there is no nation whose 
esteem they so much desire; and that it is because they so much 
desire our esteem that they rail at us so much. The Americans 
crave for our sympathy, and, in a reasonable measure, they possess 
it. They have done their utmost to disgust and repel us. They 
have flourished in our faces manifestoes of buccaneering aggression. 
The statesmen and diplomatists by whom they have allowed them- 
selves to be represented have exceeded in insolence, in ruffianism, in 
profligate dishonesty, all other statesmen and diplomatists with whom 
we have had to deal; and some natural exultation could not fail to 
be felt at the total break-down, in the face of real difficulties, of a 
set of low-bred swaggerers who had been ' chawing up creation ' with 
their lies and their bluster, with their forged Oregon maps and 
their Monroe doctrines." 

The next is from the Morning Chronicle, November 28, 1861, in 
the heat of the Trent excitement: " Abraham Lincoln, whose acces- 
sion to power was generally welcomed on this side of the Atlantic, 
has proved himself a feeble, confused, and little-minded mediocrity; 
Mr. Seward, the firebrand at his elbow, is exerting himself to pro- 
voke a quarrel with all Europe, in that spirit of senseless egotism, 
which induces the Americans, with their dwarf fleet and shapeless 
mass of incoherent squads, which they call an army, to fancy them- 
selves the equals of France by land, and of Great Britain by sea. 
If the Federal States could be rid of these two mischief-makers, it 
might yet redeem itself in the sight of the world; but while they 
stagger on at the head of affairs, their only chance of fame consists 
in the probability that the navies of England will blow out of the 
water their blockading squadrons, and teach them how to respect 
the flag of a mightier supremacy beyond the Atlantic." 

The third is from the issue of the Times of January n, 1862, just 
at the time that the news of the settlement of the Trent affair reached 
England: "The ferocity and vindictiveness which have become in 
the present generation part of the American character, as shown by 
duels and assassinations, and atrocities on board ship, that almost 


pass belief, are now in full play in this unhappy strife. And as yet 
the passions of the combatants have hardly had scope. When the 
half-million of Northern soldiers are launched against their adver- 
saries, we may look for deeds such as the warfare of hereditary 
rivals like England and France would never know. ... If any one 
would learn the character which this war is assuming, let him read 
the accounts of the destruction of the port of Charleston. . . . 
Among the crimes which have disgraced the history of mankind, 
it would be difficult to find one more atrocious than this." 

Mr. Rhodes presented, for publication, the following letters 
from John Bright to Charles Sumner, obtained from the Sum- 
ner Papers in the Library of Harvard University. 

Letters of John Bright, 1861-1862. 

Reform Club, London, November 29, 1861. 

Dear Mr. Sumner, — I am here for a few days, where some 
excitement is caused by recent incidents growing out of your un- 
happy troubles. The Nashville is in harbour at Southampton, but 
orders have been given to prevent her taking on board arms or 
any matters of a warlike character. She will be allowed, I believe, 
to make repairs and to take coals and provisions, so that she may 
go to sea; but nothing appertaining to her as a ship of war will be 
permitted to be done. This I am told is the course to be taken. It 
is said she has property on board taken from the Harvey Birch, but 
we have no jurisdiction in the matter, and cannot on that assertion 
deliver her over to your authorities here. There is real difficulty 
in the case, but if I were Government I would have ordered her off 
within twenty-four hours. Possibly the law only enables our Gov- 
ernment to act as I have described. 

Then the Southern Commissioners have been taken from an 
English ship. This has made a great sensation here, and the igno- 
rant and passionate and "Rule Britannia" class are angry and 
insolent as usual. 

The Ministers meet at this moment on the case. The law officers 
say that your war steamer might have taken the despatches, or the 
ship itself into one of your ports for adjudication; but that to take 
the Commissioners was unlawful, inasmuch as it is not permitted 
for an officer of a ship of war finally to decide on the right of cap- 
ture. That duty belongs to a regularly constituted Court. In fact 
you have done too little or too much. Had you taken the ship, the 
law would not have been broken; but having taken only the men 
you are in the wrong. I doubt this, looking to the terms of the law 

igil.] LETTERS OF JOHN BRIGHT, 1861-1862. I49 

as laid down in the authorities, and to the terms of our royal proclama- 
tion issued some six months ago. The whole code of law in these 
matters should be revised and made clear, or abolished. The latter 
would be best. 

I understand your Minister here has no instructions on this 
matter, and is uninformed as to what were the intentions and orders 
of your Government. It may be that Commodore Wilkes acted 
for himself, and without specific orders. I hope our Government 
will take a moderate and forbearing course, and that yours will 
do the same. We might have been more friendly in the Nashville 
matter, and you in this of the Trent. 

I am sure you will do what you can to smooth any irritation 
which may exist with you, and you have great power. 

I may learn something more this way, for I shall probably see 
some Minister later in the day, and I am to dine with Mr. Adams 
at seven o'clock; but I write this in case I cannot say anything at 
a later hour in time for to-morrow's boat. I hope to do some ser- 
vice for both countries, on Wednesday next. . , . 

John Bright. 

There is a feeling among our Ministers that Mr. Seward is not 
so friendly in his transactions with them as they could wish. I 
hope this is not so. 

Manchester, November 30, 1861. 

Dear Mr. Sumner, — I am just here from London and write in 
hope of catching the Steamer at Cork. 

Mr. Adams saw Lord Russell yesterday, but could give no in- 
formation on the Trent affair having received no instructions. 

A Cabinet Council was held yesterday. The Chancellor, At- 
torney and Solicitor General [Roundell Palmer] were agreed and 
decided that you have done an illegal act in seizing the Commis- 
sioners. You might have seized the Trent and taken her to New 
York or elsewhere for trial, and condemnation if she deserved it, 
but you could not seize persons in the ship, when no trial could be 
had, and no legal procedure be resorted to. This is the opinion of 
our lawyers. Yours may hold a contrary opinion. Nothing was 
decided, and another meeting was to be held today. I have urged 
that nothing should be done till after Monday, when Mr. Adams 
may have instructions or explanations; and further, that nothing 
should be asked from your Government that you could not easily 
comply with. 

The tone of the Ministers is not violent, and I hope they will be 
moderate; but I can promise nothing. 


A portion of our Press is rather violent, and foolish people are 
foolish, but we hope nothing worse may come of it. 

I am hoping to hear good of your Beaufort expedition, and of all 
you do to restore peace and union. 

In great haste for I am not sure I shall catch the Boat at Cork. . . . 

John Bright. 

Rochdale, December 5, 1861. 

Dear Mr. Sumner, — You will have received from me two 
hurried notes which I wrote for the last steamer. The excitement 
here has been and is great, and it is fed, as usual, by newspapers 
whose writers seem to imagine a cause of war discovered to be some- 
thing like "treasure trove." I am not informed of the nature of 
the dispatch of our Government beyond what appears in our Papers, 
and I know not how far its tone is moderate or otherwise. Our law 
officers are agreed and strong in their opinion of the illegality of the 
seizure of the Commissioners, but I cannot make out how or where 
it exceeds the course taken by English ships of war before the war 
of 181 2. But all the people here, of course, accept their opinion as 
conclusive as to the law of the case. I assume that your law officers 
will be equally agreed and strong on the other side, and thus noth- 
ing will be proved to the satisfaction of the two Governments and 
nations. Now, notwithstanding the war spirit here, I am sure, 
even in this District where your civil strife is most injuriously felt, 
that all thoughtful and serious men, and indeed the great majority 
of the people will be delighted if some way can be found out of the 
present difficulty. If opinions on your side and ours vary and are 
not to be reconciled — I mean legal opinions — then I think your 
Government may fairly say it is a question for impartial arbitra- 
tion, to which they are willing to submit the case; and further, that 
in accordance with all their past course, they are willing to agree to 
such amendments of maritime or international law as England, 
France and Russia may consent to. If I were Minister or President 
in your country, I would write the most complete answer the case 
is capable of, and in a friendly and courteous tone, send it to this 
country. I would say that if after this, your view of the case is not 
accepted, you are ready to refer the matter to any Sovereign, or 
two Sovereigns, or Governments of Europe, or to any other eligible 
tribunal, and to abide by the decision, and you will rejoice to join 
with the leading European Governments in amendments and 
modifications of international law in respect to the powers of 
belligerents and the rights of neutrals. 

I think you may do this with perfect honor, and you would make 

101 1.] LETTERS OF JOHN BRIGHT, 1861-1862. 151 

it impossible for the people of England to support our Government 
in any hostile steps against you. In fact, I think, a course so moder- 
ate and just would bring over to your side a large amount of opinion 
here that has been poisoned and misled by the Times and other 
journals since your troubles began. 

You know that I write to you with as much earnest wish for 
your national welfare as if I were a native and citizen of your coun- 
try. I dread the consequences of war quite as much for your sakes 
as for our own. So great will be my horror of such a strife that I 
believe I shall retire from public life entirely, and no longer give 
myself to the vain hope of doing good among the fools and dupes 
and knaves with whom it is my misfortune to live, should war take 
place between your country and mine. 

I need not tell you who are much better acquainted with modern 
history than I am, that Nations drift into wars, as we drifted into 
the late war with Russia, often thro' the want of a resolute hand 
at some moment early in the quarrel. So now, a courageous stroke, 
not of arms, but of moral action, may save you and us. I suppose 
the act of your Captain Wilkes was not directly authorized by your 
Government; if so, the difficulty will be smaller. You would not 
have authorized such an act against a friendly nation, calculated 
to rouse hostile feelings against you; you repudiate any infraction 
of international law; the capture of the Commissioners is of no 
value when set against the loss of that character for justice and 
courtesy which you have always sustained; and you are willing to 
abide by the law as declared by impartial arbitration. I hope 
opinion is not too strong and too excited to prevent your taking 
this moderate course. 

It is common here to say that your Government cannot resist the 
mob violence by which it is surrounded. I do not believe this, and 
I know that our Government is often driven along by the force of 
the genteel and aristocratic mob which it mainly represents. But 
now in this crisis I fervently hope that you may act firmly and 
courteously. Any moderate course you may take will meet with 
great support here, and in the English Cabinet there are, as I cer- 
tainly know, some who will gladly accept any fair proposition for 
friendly arrangement from yowr side. 

Your Congress is just meeting, and your Foreign Relations Com- 
mittee and your Senate will have this matter in hand. If you deal 
with it so wisely as to put our Government in the wrong in the 
sight of all moderate men here, you will not only avoid the perils 
now menacing but you will secure an amount of friendly sympathy 
here which hitherto unhappily has not been given you. 


I heard in London that when your Steamer San Jacinto was at 
Havana, the Southern Commissioners were invited by Capt. Wilkes 
to dine with him on board his ship, and that they did so dine with 
him. The idea has been put forward that the whole thing was 
arranged, with a view to embroil the North with England. This 
fact was positively stated to our Cabinet at their meeting on Friday 
or Saturday last. I spoke at length last night on American affairs. 1 
Mr. Cobden wrote an admirable letter to the Chairman of the 
meeting. I hope what was said and written may be of use here and 
with you. Between the Nashville and the Trent there is combustible 
matter for both sides the water. Don't allow temper in any of your 
statesmen to turn his judgment. Without foreign war I look to the 
restoration of your Union. Give no advantage to the enemies of 
your Republic here, and you will be all right again by and bye. Be 
courteous and conceding to the last possible degree, now in your 
time of trial, and may God help you in your struggle for freedom 
and humanity. 

Can you let me know anything when determined on? You may 
entirely rely on my discretion in regard to it. . . . 

John Bright. 

Private. Rochdale, December 7, 1861. 

Dear Mr. Sumner, — I write a few lines more for the steamer 
at Cork tomorrow. There is more calmness here in the public 
mind, which is natural after last week's explosion; but I fear the 
military and naval demonstrations of our Government point to 
trouble, and I am not sure that it would grieve certain parties here 
if any decent excuse could be found for a quarrel with you. You 
know the instinct of aristocracy and of powerful military services, 
and an ignorant people is easily led astray on questions foreign to 
their usual modes of thought. I have no doubt you will be able to 
produce strong cases from English practice in support of the present 
case, but I doubt if any number of these will change opinion here. 
It will be said, and is said already, that if we did wrong fifty years 
ago, it is no reason why you should do wrong now. The law is the 
law and it shall not be broken, and we take our law officers' law for 
our law. Now what is to be done? You must put the matter in 
such a shape as to save your honor,* and to put our Government in 
the wrong if they refuse your proposition. I see no way but to 

1 At Rochdale. See Rogers, Speeches of John Bright, 1. 167. 

* The retention of the Commissioners cannot be worth a farthing to you in 
comparison to the desperate evil of war with England — as the result of any 
arbitration you may give up anything without any wound to your honor. Note 
by Bright. 

I9II.] LETTERS OF JOHN BRIGHT, 1861-1862. 1 53 

state your case in all its completeness, and then to offer to leave 
the question to the decision of some tribunal — say the French 
Emperor, or the King of Holland, or the King of Prussia, or the 
Emperor of Russia, or any two of them — and at the same time 
to restate your willingness so to amend and define international 
law as to make such cases of difficulty impossible hereafter. Such 
a fair, and I will say, Christian course will disarm multitudes of 
our people, and whatever may be the secret wishes of our Govern- 
ment, it will, I cannot but believe, be compelled to yield; and you 
may rest assured, that such a course on your part will do much to 
create a more generous feeling here with respect to your main 

At all hazards you must not let this matter grow to a war with 
England, even if you are right and we are wrong. War will be fatal 
to your idea of restoring the Union and we know not what may sur- 
vive its evil influences. I am not now considering its effects here — 
they may be serious enough, but I am looking alone to your great 
country, the hope of freedom and humanity, and I implore you not 
on any feeling that nothing can be conceded, and that England is 
arrogant and seeking a quarrel, to play the game of every enemy 
of your country. Nations in great crises and difficulties, have often 
done that which in their prosperous and powerful hour they would 
not have done, and they have done it without humiliation or dis- 
grace. You may disappoint your enemies by the moderation and 
reasonableness of your conduct, and every honest and good man in 
England will applaud your wisdom. Put all the fire-eaters in the 
wrong, and Europe will admire the sagacity of your Government. 

Your Congress meets, I think, on Monday; I pray that in your 
Senate, in the Committee over which you preside, and in your 
Cabinet councils, and in the breast of your President there may be 
the calm wisdom which will baffle those seeking to force you into 
war with England — England, just now endangered by the power 
of her oligarchy and her overgrown military services. My speech 
has been published very widely, in all the chief London and many 
influential county papers. It may do some good here. Excuse my 
troubling you so often. . . . 

John Bright. 

Private. Rochdale, December 14, 1861. 

Dear Mr. Sumner, — I cannot let the boat go without sending 
you a few lines. There is less passion shown here than there was 
a week ago, and there has been a considerable expression of opinion 
in favor of moderate counsels, and urging arbitration rather than 


war. The unfavorable symptom is the war preparations of the 
Government and the sending of troops to Canada, and the favor 
shown to the excitement which so generally precedes war. This 
convinces me either that this Government believes that you intend 
war with England, or that itself intends war with you. The first 
supposition is scarcely credible — unless the New York Herald be 
accepted as the confidential organ of your Government (!), or that 
Lord Lyons has misrepresented the feeling of the Washington 
Cabinet. The second supposition may be true, for it may be im- 
agined that by a war got up on some recent pretence, such as your 
Steamer San Jacinto is supposed to have given, we may have cotton 
sooner than by waiting for your success against the South. I know 
nothing but what is in the Papers; but I conclude that this Govern- 
ment is ready for war if an excuse can be found for it. I need not 
tell you that at a certain point the moderate opinion of the country 
is borne down by the passion which arises, and which takes the 
name of patriotism, and that the good men here who abhor war 
may have no influence if a blow is once struck. 

There is great anxiety for the next arrivals from your side. It is 
feared that the President's message may commit him to some course 
on the "seizure" affair before he has received accounts from England. 
I rather incline to rely on his calmness and prudence, and to hope 
the best. 

I have no positive information as to the demand made by this 
Government; but in case it cannot be complied with, I hope you 
will be able to make some offer of negotiation and arbitration that 
will strengthen the hands of all moderate men here, and make it 
impossible for our "religious public" to support a war. My own 
opinion is that the more liberally and generously you can act, the 
more you will turn the tide of feeling in England in your favor, and 
baffle the wretches who, hating your Institutions, except that one 
of the South, will be glad to make war upon you. 

Mr. Cobden has written to you on the subject of the Blockade. 
If his project were possible it would tell admirably in Europe; 
whether it could be worked I know not. It is a desperate evil in 
your case that England and France, and England especially, should 
have so strong an interest in seeing the commerce of the South set 
free, and in this you run the risk of a quarrel being made by this 
Government; but whether many other chances of quarrel would 
not arise if the Blockade were voluntarily raised, in consequence of 
the stoppage and search of vessels for contraband at the entrance 
of your ports, I cannot tell; nor do I see how you could collect your 
duties. If collected off the port, then, would the Southern authori- 

I9H.] LETTERS OE JOHN BRIGHT, 1861-1862. 1 55 

ties permit goods to be landed except on payment of further duties 
to them? The whole question is full of difficulties which I cannot 
solve or even advise upon. 

If you are resolved to succeed against the South, have no war with 
England; make every concession that can be made; don't even 
hesitate to tell the world that you will even concede what two years ago 
no Power would have asked of you, rather than give another nation 
a pretence for assisting in the breaking up of your country. The 
time will probably come when you can safely disregard the menaces 
of the English oligarchy; now it is your interest to baffle it, even by 
any concession which is not disgraceful. . . . 

John Bright. 

Private. Rochdale, December 21, 1861. 

Dear Mr. Sumner, — I do not let the steamer go without send- 
ing you a few lines. This week the country has been shocked by 
the death of Prince Albert, but our war journals have not suspended 
their mischievous labors. There has however been more manifesta- 
tion of opinion in favor of peace, and of moderate counsels, and of 
arbitration ■ in case your Government cannot accept the opinion of 
our law officers on the unhappy Trent affair. I suspect there is a 
section of our Government disposed for war; but I know there is 
another section disposed for peace, and I hope your Government 
may act calmly, and uninfluenced by the insults of some of our 
journals, so as to give strength to the section that is in favor of 
peace. I heard yesterday that Mr. Adams had received from the 
President an approval of the view he had expressed some time ago 
to Lord Palmerston, that his Government would not be likely to 
authorize the stoppage of our West India steamers to search for 
the Southern envoys, and that the President had written this after 
he had received intelligence of the stoppage of the Trent. Should 
this be correct, then, I hardly see how your Government can hesi- 
tate as to the course they should take, and that course must do 
much to ensure peace. 

The Times and other journals, but the Times chiefly, have sought 
to create the opinion that your Government, and Mr. Seward 
principally, seeks war with England; and I feel certain that if you 
can baffle them in this one instance, opinion here will go much 
against them and in your favor. Unfortunately whilst heretofore 
cotton has been the great bond of peace between the United States 
and England, now it is acting in a contrary direction. Men think 
whatever the evils of war with you, at least it would give us cotton — 
they care little for the monstrous cost, if the price is war — and 


thus cotton acts at this moment rather adversely than favorably to 

Mr. Cobden writes to me again about the Blockade. It would 
indeed be fortunate if you could permit the trade to be reopened; 
but I tell him I do not see how it can be done if the struggle is to be 
continued. He fears, as I also fear, that unless something decisive 
can be done soon on the Potomac, that if the present crisis be got 
over, other questions of difficulty will arise, or will be made, to 
form an excuse for England or France, or for them both, to recog- 
nize the South and to take steps for raising the Blockade of the 
Southern ports. 

Mr. Cobden too condemns the stopping of the ports by sinking 
ships laden with stones, as being barbarous and permanently hostile 
to commerce. But war is barbarous, and this is but an act of war. 
As regards Charleston, I suppose Beaufort or Port Royal may be 
substituted, and may be a much better port. I mention this point 
to show what we are thinking of and talking about. 

I have seen a letter from a Cabinet Minister here, and an in- 
fluential one, arguing that the sending of forces to Canada now is 
necessary as a measure of precaution, as they could not be sent 
during the winter if matters should come to the worst, and that it 
should not increase the difficulty of a peace course on your side. 
I believe opinion in Europe is against you on the Trent seizure, 
and that any concession you can make will obtain you much good 
will in Europe, and that your friends will most rejoice at it. I 
think too that this is the view taken by some of the U. S. ministers 
and consuls in England and in Europe. I wish you all success in 
your efforts to promote peace. If the two Governments wish it, it 
surely cannot be in much peril. . . . John Bright 1 

Private. Rochdale, January 11, 1862. 

Dear Mr. Sumner, — Your letter of the 23d ult. reached me on 
the 7th of this month. It shewed such evidences of anxiety on 
your part that it made me intensely anxious, and I was not pre- 
pared for the tidings of the following day, which announced the 
settlement of the question which was the main cause of immediate 
danger. I need not tell you how much I rejoice, or how much I 
admire the dignity and tact with which the matter has been dealt 
with in the dispatch of your Government so far as I have yet seen of 
it. The war-mongers here are baffled for the time, and I cannot but 

1 A letter from Sumner to Bright, of December 23, 1861, is printed in Pierce, 
Memoir and Letters of Charles Sumner, iv. 57. 

I9II.] LETTERS OF JOHN BRIGHT, 1861-1862. 1 57 

believe that a more healthy opinion is gradually extending itself on 
all matters connected with your great struggle. 

Mr. Cobden wrote to you about the blockade, and suggested 
what may appear impracticable perhaps, in his great anxiety to 
have removed any pretence for interference on the part of England 
or of France. I have abstained from following up his suggestion, 
because it did not appear to me to be possible to act upon it. Still 
the subject is one which involves a great peril, and I have a letter 
from a friend of mine in a Government office, tho' not a member of 
the Government, in which he expresses his confident belief that 
Palmerston and Louis Napoleon do intend at an early period to 
recognize the independence of the South, and to repudiate or break 
the blockade. Now, I should think that after repeated declara- 
tions of neutrality, and seeing that the power of your Government 
is evidently increasing, this is not likely; yet, knowing the willing- 
ness, and I will say the eagerness of our ruling class, not of our people, 
to see your republic broken into smaller and weaker parts, I cannot 
wholly disregard the warnings of my correspondent, and I wish to 
write to you especially upon this point. 

Charleston harbour is now partly shut up, and there remain 
only three ports of great importance as far as regards the export of 
cotton — Savannah, Mobile and New Orleans. It is the closing of 
these ports only, and really of the two last named, which is the 
difficulty. If your Government could occupy the cities and ports 
of New Orleans and Mobile, you could at once raise the blockade, 
receive imports and permit exports, and the customs receipts would 
go into your coffers. The cotton pressure here is considerable, and 
may become very formidable. The price has doubled, and as the 
price of yarns and cloth does not follow in any proportion, trade is 
greatly embarrassed, and many mills are not at work. To the work- 
people, the opening of the ports is of great moment; with the spin- 
ners and manufacturers and merchants, I think generally there is 
no wish for any immediate change. Stocks are now held at high 
prices, upon which great losses would be sustained, and it is felt 
that what is now taking place, tho' a severe process, is clearing the 
world's markets and providing for a more profitable trade here- 
after. But our Government could pretend an anxiety for the wel- 
fare of the work-people and for our trade, and on this pretence join 
France in the vile attempt to ensure your permanent disruption by 
aiding the South. Your occupation of the two ports I have men- 
tioned would enable you to raise the blockade of those ports, and 
thus to reopen the trade in cotton, and you would thus baffle the 
designs attributed to the European Governments. 


There is one other resource in your hands. I notice what Mr. 
Seward says about the Slave States which adhere to the Union, 
and I see the difficulty of the position with regard to them. If they 
could be brought to consent to a compensated manumission of their 
slaves, and thus abandon all interest in the "institution," the 
course would be much clearer. The general question would then 
be more easily grappled with. If at any moment your President or 
Congress should know that the independence of the South is about 
to be recognized by England, your true policy, if it be a possible 
policy, is to declare all slaves free; and if this Declaration precedes 
the recognition of the independence of the South, then England 
would be put in the position not of continuing merely, but of actually 
restoring the condition of slavery throughout the Southern States. 
So long as the independence is not acknowledged, so long manumis- 
sion by your Government would have in the eye of foreigners 
the force of law, seeing that it would be an act done to secure your 
Government and your Union, and I think it would hardly be pos- 
sible for this Government to recognize the independence, and re- 
pudiate the blockade, and therefore to make war upon you to re- 
establish the condition of slavery among all the negroes of the South. 

I am now writing as if I believed all the worst of our Government. 
Of some of its members I can believe anything bad, and of its chief 
principally, 1 and I know how the course of Government here is worked 
by and in accordance with the natural instincts of the privileged 
order from which it springs. There are other members of the Gov- 
ernment who can wish for no evil of this kind, but who may be 
cajoled and deluded into it. With these we shall do our best to 
warn them, and to urge them to break with their colleagues rather 
than permit anything adverse to your Union to be done. It is evi- 
dent from your journals that the United States Government is 
becoming more and more able to grapple with the insurrection. 
Mr. Russell, in a letter just published in the Times admits this, 
and says that he has always known that the North would succeed 
if the Northern people would find funds for their Government. I 
wish this idea to be universally entertained here; the contrary 
opinion has generally prevailed even 'among those friendly to you, 
and I have often found myself alone in my view when discussing 
the point with my friends. Everything done with you which shows 
power by land or sea, every new point occupied, every move in the 
direction of freedom to the slave, tells here powerfully and makes 
it less possible for our Government to deal treacherously with you 
and to inflict any blow upon you. 

1 Palmerston. 

ign.] LETTERS OF DANIEL WEBSTER, 1834-1851. 159 

Our Parliament meets about or on the 6th of February. America 
will come in for no little discussion, and I have no doubt that at- 
tempts will be made to urge the Government to recognize the South. 
If any facts or arguments occur to you that would be useful in our 
discussions, I shall be glad to receive any hints from you. Our 
honor as a nation, and your honor and interests, depend upon wise 
action in this great question. The true friends of a nation's honor 
and interests are often few, and they need strength from every side. 

With all good wishes for you and your country, and with heart- 
felt gratitude to your Government for its courage and dignity. . . . 

John Bright. 

Letters of Daniel Webster, 1834-185 i. 

The Editor stated that Mr. Horatio G. Curtis, of Boston, 
had courteously submitted for publication the following letters, 
now in his possession, from Daniel Webster to his father, 
Thomas B. Curtis. 

To John Sargeant. 

Confidential. [1834.] 

Dear Sir, — I have said nothing in this letter, in answer to your 
remarks as to a successor to Mr. Choate. That matter must be 
thought of, very carefully, when the time arrives. 

For my own part, if I were now to name a successor to Mr. Choate, 
I should name Mr. Phillips. It is very well that Massachusetts 
should have an eminent Merchant in Congress. This is due to the 
commercial interests. 

One of her very best Lawyers, and one of her most eminent Mer- 
chants make a proper representation of the Old Bay State in the 

I can say this only to you; as all the Gentlemen whom you have 
named are respectable, and neither of them would do dishonor to 
the State. Yours truly 

D. W. 

I suppose it is true that Mr. Choate means to resign, some time 
in March. 1 

[On the back of the sheet is written] Private. T. B. Curtis, Esq. 

1 Rufus Choate resigned in 1834, and left Congress at the end of the first ses- 
sion of the Twenty-third Congress. He was succeeded by Stephen C. Phillips, 
of Salem. There was a rumor of Choate's resigning in 1844, and Webster himself 
appears to have been mentioned to succeed. Private Correspondence of Daniel 
Webster, 1. 180. 




Invitation to Public Dinner. 

Sept. 8, 1842. 
To the Hon[ora]ble Daniel Webster — 

Sir, — The undersigned, desirous of evincing their gratitude for 
your eminent and patriotic public services, during a long term of 
years and especially for the part sustained by you in the late nego- 
tiations which have been so skilfully conducted and happily ter- 
minated in a Treaty with Great Britain, invite you to meet them 
at a Public Dinner at such time as shall be convenient to yourself. 

H. G. Otis 


Charles P. Curtis 
Abbott Lawrence 
N. Appleton 
P. T. Jackson 
Joseph Balch 
James K. Mills 
F. Skinner 
J. Thos. Stevenson 
J. Ingersoll Bowditch 
S. Austin, Jr. 
Jos. T. Buckingham 
Thos. B. Curtis 
Abel Phelps 
Peter Harvey 
Eben. Chadwick 
J. Mason 
Wm. Sturgis 
Charles G. Loring 
Wm. Appleton 
Henry Cabot 
P. C. Brooks 
Rob. G. Shaw 
Benj. Rich 
Phineas Sprague 
Henry Oxnard 
Lemuel Shaw 

B. R. Curtis 
Tho. B. Wales 
Geo. Morey 

C. W. Cartwright 
E. Baldwin 

Horace Scudder 
Robt. Hooper, Jr. 
Samuel Quincy 
Ozias Goodwin 
Jos. Russell 
Jacob Bigelow 
Jona. Chapman 
G. R. Russell 
H. Wainwright 
Francis Fisher 
John S. Blake 
F. C. Gray 
Nathan Hale 
J. M. Forbes 
S. Hooper 
George Howe 
W. H. Gardiner 
J. H. Wolcott 
Daniel C. Bacon 
J. Davis, Jr. 
W. C. Aylwin 
F. Dexter 
Isaac Livermore 
Thos. Kinnicutt 
Edm. Dwight 
John P. Robinson 
Henry Wilson 
Geo. T. Curtis 
Geo. Tyler Bigelow 
Wm. W. Greenough 
Thos. Lamb 
Joseph Grinnell 
Francis Welch 

ign.] LETTERS OF DANIEL WEBSTER, 1834-1851. l6l 

Jno. L. Dimmock Sidney Bartlett 

Francis C. Lowell Sewell Tappan 

Caleb Curtis Saml. L. Abbot 

Geo. Hayward Joseph Ballister 

Amos Lawrence Henry D. Gray 

Geo. Darracott Geo. B. Cary 

To Thomas B. Curtis. 

Private and Confidential. Mar. 13, 1843. 

My dear Sir, — Mr. Cashing will be in Boston, on Friday morn- 
ing, at the Tremont House, on his way home. As you may sup- 
pose, he feels not only grieved, but indignant, at the treatment 
which he has received from the hands of the Ultra Whigs, in the 
Senate. In this feeling, I, for one, most heartily partake; and shall 
not, and cannot, blame him, for any proper resentment, which he 
may manifest. 

Mr. Cushing has been, in my opinion, by far the most efficient 
friend in Congress of all our N. England interests. Without his un- 
wearied efforts, there would have been no Tariff; and on all great 
questions, he has pursued, exactly, the principles, upon which the 
Whigs came into power. 

He is now determined, now, to understand what are to be the 
relations, between him and the Whig Organization of Massachu- 
setts. If the tone which is held towards him, by some of the Whig 
papers, is to be regarded as sanctioned by the general voice of the 
Whigs, he only wishes to know it. He asks no favors, of course; 
but it is no more than right that a clear understanding should exist, 
all round. There ought no longer to exist a dubious state of rela- 
tions. Mr. C. will be before the Peopk for re-election. Is he to be 
opposed, as being no Whig? This is the question. 

Mr. Cushing will be glad to see you, on Friday. 1 Meantime, I 
have no objection to your reading this letter to Mr. Chapman, 
Chairman of the Whig General Committee. Yours truly 

Danl. Webster. 

To Thomas B. Curtis. 

Washington, Jan. 17, '44. 

My dear SrR, — I thank you for your letter, and am delighted 
with Govr. Briggs' speech. It had become quite time for us to 
have thoroughly sound doctrine from the Chair of State; and we 

1 Two months later, Cushing was appointed to the China Mission, Edward 
Everett having declined it. 


have got it. I have no doubt it will be well received, throughout 
the State, and will especially revive the hearts of the Whigs. 

I find here a very strong confidence, existing in the minds of 
sober and calculating men, in Mr. Clay's election. Mr. Van Buren 
seems to be waning, and many who voted for him in 1840 will not 
support him again, altho' there should be no alternative but Mr. 
Clay's election. The Whigs of the South, and the South West, are 
especially sanguine. Mr. Clay will meet with difficulty, I suppose, 
in Massachusetts, owing to the particular state of things; but as 
he is sure to be nominated, it seems proper to do what we can. If 
the great radical and disorganizing party, which now rejoices in 
Mr. Van Buren as its leader, and in his opinions and principles, as 
political standards, can be once more thoroughly beaten, we may 
yet see better times, and a good Gov[ernmen]t. 

Mr. Henshaw appears to have lost his office by shewing bitter 
intolerance towards others, while he stood in need of tolerance 

It is conjectured that Mr. Spencer will find rough travelling 
through the Senate; but I know no more of these matters than I 
gather from common talk. 

When you have no better employment, pray write to me, under 
cover to Mr. Choate, or Mr. Evans. I shall be here a month, I sup- 
pose, and then go North for a while; and having but little to do, get 
along very well, notwithstanding continual rainy weather. Yours 

Danl. Webster. 

To Thomas B. Curtis. 

Washington, Jan. 30, 1844. 

My dear Sir, — I am obliged to you for your letter. I have seen 
your Son, 1 for a moment, and shall try to look him up again today, 
and his friend Clark. 

The notice of Mr. Choate's resignation is at least premature. He 
is here yet, and I believe speaks today, in the Senate on the Oregon 

These Newspaper accounts of my being about to go to N. York 
have annoyed me exceedingly. I really wish the printers would let 
private men and private things alone. Let me tell you just what 
has occurred. 

I had a quantity of titles to Western lands, which I placed in the 
hands of an agent in N. Y. to sell, or exchange for productive prop- 

1 Daniel Sargent Curtis. 


erty elsewhere, etc. He found a house and a dozen acres of land, 
the house used as a boarding house, on the Jersey Shore, opposite 
N. Y. This he took, paying for it some money, and some western 
lands. And that is all, for rumour No. one. Now for No. 2. I am 
retained to argue three or four causes, in N. Y. in the course of the 
Spring and Summer. Some very respectable Young Gentlemen 
thought it would be convenient for me, and not inconvenient to 
them, that when in N. Y. on professional business, I should occupy 
a room near theirs, with access to their Library etc. And this offer, 
I of course gladly accepted. 1 And that is all of No. 2. What No. 3 
will be, cannot be foreseen. I do not wish to make statements 
about myself, or my purposes, through the press; but I will thank 
you to say, to all and singular, that I am, and shall be as long as I 
live, "D. W. of Marshfield, in the County of Plymouth, and Com- 
monwealth of Massachusetts. 1 ' 

It is not likely that I shall long continue to do professional busi- 
ness, any where. And while I continue in my vocation, its principal 
theatre must of course be Massachusetts; not declining offers, 
however, which can be conveniently accepted, from other States. 

Mr. Clay's friends continue to be confident of his Success. It is 
most certain that Mr. Van Buren is regarded as a heavy load to 
carry. Yet, he will be nominated, and you know there is much 
cohesion in that party. State elections will be taking place through- 
out the country at or about the same time as the choice of Electors. 
These elections will bring out parties, strongly, and party feeling 
and party action being thus roused, Mr. Van Buren's cause, now 
apparently cold, may be warmed again, and cherished with more 
zeal and spirit. So that if the Whigs hope to carry the Country, 
they ought to be prepared for a vigorous contest. I am, Dear Sir, 
with great regard, Yours, 

Danl. Webster. 

To Thomas B. Curtis. 

Boston, Mar. 27, 1844. 

My dear Sir, — I am obliged to you for calling my attention to 
a publication in the New York Express, of the 26th instant, appear- 
ing in the form of a letter from Washington. So far as it respects 
me, the whole publication is a tissue of falsehoods, from beginning 
to end; and I cannot but express my astonishment, that it should 
have found its way into a respectable paper. 

1 Van Wimble and Moulton. Private Correspondence of Daniel Webster, 11. 


I know not whether it is worth while to take public notice of a 
statement, or series of statements, at once so false, and so utterly- 
incredible, but you are at liberty to make any use of this letter 
which you may see fit. Yours with much regard, 

Danl. Webster. 

To Thomas B. Curtis. 

Washington, Mar. 21, 1850. 

My dear Sir, — Except a letter from Mr. Mills, 1 yours was the 
first to let me know that there were some things in my Speech that 
Boston people, or some of them could approve. But it informed 
me, also, much to my regret, that Mr. Stevenson 2 was dissatisfied. 
There is hardly any one I like better, or whom I should be more 
glad to please; and I hope, still, that upon reflection, he will modify 
his feeling. 

It is a speech containing two or three propositions, of fact, and 
law. Mr. Stevenson is a very good judge to decide, whether all or 
any of these are without foundation. That the speech presents not 
an agreeable state of things, respecting the slavery question, is 
plain enough; the question is, does it present the true state of 

I hope to be able to send you, today, a copy of a corrected Edi- 
tion. I shall send another to Mr. Stevenson; and perhaps he will 
look the Speech over again. One thing appears to me to be cer- 
tain, and that is, that if we would avoid rebellion, out-breaks, and 
civil war, we must let Southern Slavery alone. Another is, that the 
keeping up of this Slavery agitation, useless as it is, in Massachu- 
setts, disaffects the whole South, Whig and democrat, to all our 
Massachusetts interests. 3 

But it is enough that you have had to read a Speech. I will not 
" superinduce," as they say here, the infliction of a political letter. 

I have been a sufferer from colds, and a sore throat; but am 
better, and hope to get to the Senate today. Yours, truly, always, 

Danl. Webster. 

I have much occasion to go home, to see to my own affairs; but I 
cannot leave my place, pending this California question. Cali- 
fornia will come in, in due time, exactly as she is. 

1 James K. Mills. 

2 J. Thomas Stevenson. 

3 "I know not how to meet the present emergency or with what weapons to 
beat down the Northern and Southern follies now raging in equal extremes. " 
Webster to Fletcher Webster, February 24, 1850. Van Tyne, Letters of Daniel 
Webster, 393. 

I9iij LETTERS OF DANIEL WEBSTER, 1834-1851. 165 

To Thomas B. Curtis. 

Washington, Jan. 20, 1851. 

My dear Sir, — I received yours of the 18th this morning. No 
wonder, you decline to contribute further to Colleges, and Theo- 
logical Schools, until you know whether sedition and licentiousness, 
or the law and the gospel are to be taught and preached in them. 
Religious instruction has hitherto been very well supported in this 
Country, under the voluntary system; but the laxity of morals, 
and the perverseness of sentiment, prevalent in these times cast 
a deep cloud over the future. 

I cannot but think it to be the duty of the Whigs in the Massa- 
chusetts Legislature to join with honest conservative Democrats, 
and elect any good man of either party. I believe that would be 
much better than to let the Election go by. For one, if I had a 
vote, I should not hesitate to give it for a sound, sensible, Union 
man of the Democratic Party, if I could not elect a decided Union 

I feel as if our Whig friends wanted decision. In my opinion, the 
present is the moment for the friends of the Union to unite, and rally 
in its support. Yours truly 

Danl. Webster. 

To Thomas B. Curtis. 

Private and Confidential. Washington, Jany. 24th, 185 1. 

My dear Sir, — I have received your letter of the day before 

I repeat my earnest opinion, that the true course for the Whigs 
in the Massachusetts Legislature, is to join the Conservative Demo- 
crats, if by so doing they can elect a decided Union Man of that 
party. I have no doubt that this is better than to put off the 

Be assured, My Dear Sir, that there is not a syllable of truth, in 
all you hear about dissentions in the Cabinet, or of the President's 
joining new friends. The Administration will of course not refuse 
the support of any, in public life, or in private life, who choose to 
give it their support, but it will not depart a hair's breadth from the 
principles upon which it has acted up to this time. 

I will send you the Roll of names. Yours truly, 

Danl. Webster. 


Letters of Francis Baylies, 1827-1834. 

The following letters are taken from the collection of Bay- 
lies Papers presented by Governor Long, May, 1910. 1 

To Gulian C. Verplanck. 

Taunton, Saturday Evg. Nov. 10, 1827. 
My dear Sir, — Yours of Wednesday Evening I received this 
morning, and I cannot sleep without congratulating you on the un- 
parralled victory in the City. You must know that the effect of 
this election travels far beyond your limits. It was not so much 
eleven assemblymen gained to the Legislature of New York, (al- 
though that is important,) as this decided demonstration of opinion 
given by the greatest City of the Union, a City which may well be 
called its heart, and I think now its head. It demonstrates to this 
corrupt coalition that public opinion will in time run clear and 
transparent, although the waters of its fountain head may be de- 
filed. The City of New York operates on the whole Confederacy 
and produces the same effect on political opinion as her Merchants 
do in regulating the market, and her Capitalists in establishing the 
price of stocks; and not even an election there of Charter Officers 
but what has its effect abroad. It is all important, it puts the 
battle in our power. Yet even the Jacksonians in New England, 
who maintain their lonely posts in the heart of the enemys coun- 
try, may now march under the banner of the Great City, and (I 
hope) the Great State with Jackson for commander, to a victory as 
certain as overwhelming and as glorious as that of New Orleans. 
If the State goes with the City she will, indeed, be placed in a proud 
position, asking nothing for herself, no state favourite to gratify, 
no State interest to subserve, nor begging for corps of electioneer- 
ing Engineers to traverse her domain, 2 — relying on her own re- 
sources, independent, impartial and patriotic. Your friend, 

Francis Baylies. 

From Francis Baylies. 3 

Taunton, Nov. 24, 1828. 

My dear Sir, — Yours of the 17 I have just received. Lord 
Nelson after the battle of Aboukir called it a conquest and not 

1 Proceedings, xliii. 547. 

2 A reference to President Adams' policy of internal improvements under the 
direction of the national government. 

3 An unfinished draft of a letter, without the name of the person to whom it 
was written. 

iqii.] LETTERS OE ERANCIS BAYLIES, 1827-1834. 167 

a victory. So let ours be called. I am beginning to think with 
Bradley we are getting too Strong. It is always best to have a 
formidable minority if that minority is honest. If they are rogues 
that is another thing, — but blessed is the country where the rogues 
are a minority. 

It was an awful disaster to the Ebony men here, they never 
dreamed that such a result was possible. The wise men of our 
State not a week before the Pennsylvania election of members of 
Congress, had put forth their Expose claiming 16 members, favour- 
able to the Administration from Pennsylvania, and they honestly 
believed and put their names to the statement. What is peculiarly 
galling to many of them, they have lost all their spare money and 
John Q. together. The only way that they could find to vent them- 
selves at first was to utter imprecations on General Jackson, but 
the office holders and office expectants have altered this style of re- 
buke, and all the Ebonies are now holding a new language. General 
Jackson, say they, is a man too disinterested and patriotic to re- 
move men from office merely for a difference in opinion, they have 
entire confidence in his wisdom and forbearance, and are very 
indignant at suggestions which have been made in some of the 
papers, that a part of the Electoral votes should be diverted from 
him and given to another man, a new candidate, and they warmly 
resent this imaginary wrong, like an old Englishman who lived in 
this village, when describing a quarrel in which he had been en- 
gaged. Why, said the old fellow, "the people were all surprised to 
see how mad I was;" and I really am surprised to find how mad 
those are who have distributed coffin handbills without number 
and blistered their [tongues] in telling lies about Old Hickory lest 
he should be wronged. I am certainly growing lukewarm. 

In this great battle my New York friends, when you see them, 
will tell you that I have done my part. I knew where to choose my 
battle ground. Give me an open field and fair play, and if I am 
beaten the fault is my own. There is yet another battle to be 
fought, when the Lyon l of the west drives the oriental tyger 2 to 
his den. There I meet him — perhaps. You must know when I go 
to Boston I go through Quincy. 

Now Colonel, let me know the news. Let me know whether 
Henry Clay is not grieved to the soul that the "West," the "poor 
West," has been so gloriously illustrated. How looks the dark 
browed Cheif of the Massachusetts ? 3 And how is the poetical Mr. 
Storrs. 4 Not even Anti-Masonry could save John Q. Do you 

1 Jackson. 2 Adams. 8 Webster. 

4 Henry R. Storrs, of New York. 


think old Hickory can spell Massachusetts. The Cabinet, I want 
to know something, as Governor Metcalf 1 said, "about how the 
cabinet is to be filled." 
I must tax you, Mr. Williams, Verplanck 2 and Jeromus as follows: 
i. John Q's last words and dying speech pamphlet form; 3 

2. All the documents accompanying the same; 

3. Annual Treasury Report (expected to be superfine). You 
may divide amongst as you will, but these I must have some how, 
and any thing else which out of your abundance you can supply. 
Also you in particular if it can be done without trouble: 

Chapman Johnson's address pamphlet form 
All the Writings of Henry Lee in this Presidential controversy. 
For this I will pay you tomorrow or soon by others. 

From Henry Bowen. 

Providence, February 4, 1829. 

My dear Sir, — In the contest of '24 Mr. Crawford was the 
choice of Governor Fenner, 4 Judge Eddy, 5 myself and a few others. 
In our little State however Mr. Adams had an immense majority. 
We, therefore, who held State offices, found it necessary to tem- 
porize, avowing our approbation of the measures of government so 
far as they contributed to the general welfare. No Jackson party 
was organized here or pretended to be, until after it was ascertained 
that the General was elected, and even now it is very small. If 
Rhode Island is to support the administration it must be accom- 
plished by enlisting the old Republican party, which we are inclined 
to effect, and shall, if the measures of government admit, as I have 
no doubt they will. It is the policy of a small State never to array 
itself against the majority. No one has a more exalted opinion of 
the General than I have and no one will more sincerely support 

You may in truth say to the General, that in the war of 181 2 I 
was the only lawyer in Providence who by speech and writing sup- 
ported it, and this too at the displeasure of my whole family which 
you know was numerous, respectable and influential. 

You can also say, that I have been twice elected Attorney General, 
and nine times Secretary of State annually by the People, and am 
again nominated by the Jackson Convention. 

If the General concludes not to nominate Colonel Cole, I am 
strong in the faith that I shall succeed. Our Delegation in Con- 

1 Ralph Metcalf, of New Hampshire. 

2 Gulian C. Verplanck, of New York. 

3 Annual Message to Congress. 4 James Fenner, 6 Samuel Eddy. 

iqii.] LETTERS OF FRANCIS BAYLIES, 1827-1834. 169 

gress (with the exception of Mr. Burgess x from whom I have not 
heard) will I have every reason to believe, concur in my recom- 
mendation. And I do not believe the General will again nominate 
the present incumbent, when he reflects that he has already held 
twenty years, has pocketed at least $50,000, is a foreigner, without 
family (except a wife) or connexions in this country, and above all 
that after receiving so liberal a compensation, he still claims a 
stipend granted upon the express presumption that he is poor and 
destitute — this is really riding the "free horse to the death." You 
will recollect Colonel C. held the office when the limitation bylaw 
was five thousand dollars, and when the India trade was extensively 
promoted. Now the limitation is 3000, and is not worth I am told 
to exceed 2000. 

However the issue is in the womb of futurity. All I hope is that 
my friends will exert themselves, and come what may I shall be 
content. Very truly your Friend, 

Henry Bo wen. 

Hon. F. Baylies. 

To Andrew Jackson. 

Taunton, November 17, 1829. 

Sir, — I had the honour some months since, to address to you 
some communications on the subject of the appointments of the 
General Government in Massachusetts, but as those appointments 
for the most part (particularly in Boston) were made without re- 
gard to my views, I supposed that some malign influence had changed 
that favourable opinion with which I well know I was once regarded 
by the Chief Magistrate of the Republic. Under this impression I 
abstained from all further interference, for I will not obtrude my 
advice on any one, and I endeavoured as well as I could to conceal 
the mortification and chagrin occasioned by the general disgust 
with which these appointments were received. 

I have witnessed some remarkable transactions. I have seen 
with astonishment a Post-Master appointed in this Village from 
amongst your most determined political enemies, from whom but 
a little more than a year since I was compelled to hear expressions 
extremely unpleasant to me, for they were uttered against you; whose 
most active supporter was a person who was diligently employed, 
during the late Presidential controversy, in writing articles nearly 
libellous against me for supporting you. I will, however, do the 
Post Master the justice to say that I believe him well qualified for 
his place, obliging, active, and hospitable. Of his hospitality I can- 
not speak from personal knowledge, and therefore refer to that 

1 Tristam Burges. 


celebrated and unfortunate character Tobias Watkins, 1 for he par- 
took of it when on his travels in the North. I have no disposition 
to disturb the Post Master in his Office. I only mention this appoint- 
ment as evidence brought home to my own door of some very strange 
influence, or of some gross deception. Notwithstanding this, I re- 
mained silent, and silent I should have remained had not a case 
recently occurred of a character so flagrant that I think my social 
obligations as a member of society and as a good citizen compel me 
to interfere, and at least to try the extent of my influence, for if I 
have any I should hold myself unworthy of the regard of honourable 
men, if I refrained any longer from its exercise. A silent acquies- 
cence would justly expose me to the imputation of timidity, in- 
gratitude and a reckless disregard of the public good. 

The Collector of Boston has within a few days removed from the 
office of Inspector of the Customs, worth perhaps 10 or $1100 per 
annum, the Hon. William C. Jarvis, late Speaker of our House of 
Representatives. After I had been driven from Congress in con- 
sequence of my avowed opinions on the Presidential question, 2 I 
was honoured by the people of my own Town with a Seat in that 
Legislative Assembly in which Mr. Jarvis presided. I received 
from him the most liberal and courteous treatment; and notwith- 
standing the general prejudices which then prevailed against all 
who supported you, he had the independence to place me at the 
head of the most important Legislative Committee. For this act 
he was denounced in the Massachusetts Journal, a paper of which you 
may have heard, as being the vehicle of many slanders against you, 
— and so much was his popularity at that time injured by this in- 
dication of partiality for a Jackson man, that he came near losing 
his election as a Senator, when subsequently a candidate for that 
office in a County where his popularity until that time had been 
so firmly established, that it was thought impossible to shake it. 
Throughout the whole controversy for the Presidency his course 
was tolerant and liberal, and while he fairly supported his own 
candidate, he was not so reckless of the moral obligation of truth 
as to deny to the other the more exalted patriotism, or so soured by 
party rancor as to refrain from acknowledging that he had illus- 
trated the fame of his Country by acts of the most heroic virtue 
and valour. 

Now, Sir, when this gentleman became the victim of persecution 

1 A physician, and until Jackson removed him for peculation, fourth auditor 
of the United States Treasury. Memoirs of John Quincy Adams, vm. 141, 144, 

2 He ceased to be a member March 3, 1827. 

ignj LETTERS OF FRANCIS BAYLIES, 1827-1834. 171 

for political offences, for I cannot learn that any other have been 
charged upon him, and when an appeal had been made to me on 
questions of fact, could I have remained silent without displaying 
the most cold hearted indifference to the injuries of one who had 
exhibited in a remarkable manner his good will to me, and his fair- 
ness to you, under circumstances in which most men would have 
yielded to the violence of that prejudice which then admitted 
neither excuse or palliation for the slightest deviation from a pre- 
scribed course? These are circumstances which test the characters 
of men. He who can pass through the ordeals of political pros- 
perity and adversity, and exhibit a mild forbearance in one situa- 
tion and an unyielding firmness in the other, gives some evidence 
of public virtue. The head of a triumphant party, (as Mr. Jarvis 
in a manner was, in our State) who could refrain from crushing a 
political adversary, and could honorably distinguish him before all 
others, gives more, far more, than those characters who will not 
trust themselves in the fight when success is dubious, but after the 
victory, will crowd around the camp to steal the trophies. 

The acceptance of this office by Mr. Jarvis occasioned no little 
surprise. His talents and standing were such as would have justi- 
fied him in the indulgence of an ambition of a more high reaching 
character. Such was the estimation in which he was held that but 
a few years since he received a respectable support for the office of 
Governor, and amongst his supporters I believe this very Collector 
was numbered. It is certain that at that time the columns of the 
Statesman were filled with his praises. But he says that he has 
learned that happy secret the essence of all true philosophy, to 
expect but little; and to be satisfied with little. That such a man 
should have consented to serve under such a character as David 
Henshaw, excites my special wonder! That such a man should 
have been superseded in office by Ephraim May Cunningham, is 
such an outrage on public feeling, that any Administration which 
countenances such transactions by sustaining such men will as 
surely lose the public confidence, as though they had taken their 
officers from the Penitentiaries; for Cunningham is a traitor to all 
the obligations of social life, the betrayer of private correspondence, 
a wretch who has had the audacity to proclaim his own shame, 
bartered (as I believe) confidential letters if not for money, at least 
for reward, and has gathered up the vile wages of his infamy from 
the grave of his father, and who by disclosing the secrets which 
under the most solemn engagements of fidelity, had been confided 
to his father by his father's friend and kinsman, the first President 
Adams, has violated every principle of that chivalrous honor which 


holds sacred the reciprocal faith not only of friends, but of honour- 
able enemies. 1 

Sir, I must speak plainly. Henshaw is but little better than Cun- 
ningham. That he [is] a liar and slanderer I know. That he is uni- 
versally odious and contemptible is notorious. That he never 
embraced your cause until your success was morally certain is 
equally notorious. That he will betray and desert you, should you 
experience what I trust and hope you never will experience — the 
loss of popular favour, — is a moral deduction founded on a knowl- 
edge of his character, almost as certain as a fact already ascertained. 
If he is continued: if he is permitted to wreak his petty malignity 
upon honorable men for selfish purposes, for no other reason per- 
haps than this, that some of their connections did not suppose him 
a suitable person to manage a monied Institution in which they had 
some interest; if it be the settled policy of the administration to 
hold out this man to the world as their trusted and confidential 
friend; the administration will be left without support here, except 
from those venal sycophants who throng around this "puffed up 
and petty despot" to obtain offices. 

These things I write in sorrow and not in anger. I pray you, Sir, 
to releive us from this man, who hangs like a mill-stone around the 
neck of the party and will inevitably carry all your disinterested 
supporters here to the bottom. 

I have neither personal nor party views to answer, except in one 
way. I belong neither to the Statesman or the Bulletin, as the Boston 
parties are called, but I have been steady in my fidelity to the great 
Administration party of the Union. Nothing but my attachment 
to the true interests of that party induces me to take this step : — 
an attachment which has been strengthened by having shared their 
toils, when struggling in a minority to bring about an event aus- 
picious as I had confidently hoped to the best interests of the nation. 
I wish to see the party great, respectable and powerful, winning 
and deserving the confidence of every man of worth in the com- 
munity: — and therefore it is that I entreat you not to force this 
man upon us. If none can be found in this State to whom you would 
be willing to give this office, give us a Collector from another, and 
we will be satisfied provided he is a man entitled to our respect. 
I have the honour to be with great and sincere respect your obe- 
dient servant, 

Francis Baylies. 

The President of the United States. 

1 Correspondence between the Hon. John Adams and the late William Cunning- 
ham, printed in 1823. See Memoirs of John Quincy Adams, vm. 181, 393. 

ignj LETTERS OF FRANCIS BAYLIES, 1827-1834. 173 

To Charles E. Dudley. 1 

Taunton, November 17, 1829. 

Dear Sir, — Although I have not the honour of an intimate 
acquaintance with you, yet through the medium of common friends 
in the State of New- York I have acquired such a knowledge of 
your character as emboldens me to ask you to use your influence 
to prevent the confirmation of David Henshaw as Collector of 
Boston. He is so universally odious and contemptible, that if 
he is confirmed the cause of the administration is hopeless in this 
State, and the struggle to sustain it may as well be relinquished. 
In the exercise of his power he has been so reckless of public opinion, 
so impolitic, so malignant and so selfish, that there is an universal 
outcry against him. I trust it cannot be the purpose of this Ad- 
ministration to place a petty and contemptible despot in office to 
enable him to wreak his personal malignity upon individuals, and 
to fill all his subordinate offices from amongst his own toad-eaters, 
wholly regardless of the great interests of the party to which he 
professes to belong. I write this to you, Sir, in confidence, and I hope 
the urgency of the case will furnish my justification with you for the 
liberty I have taken. I am with much respect, Your obedient 

Francis Baylies. 

To Hugh Lawson White. 2 

Taunton, November 17, 1829. 

My dear Sir, — I take the liberty to enclose to you a copy of 
a letter which I have addressed to General Jackson. I have taken 
this liberty, Sir, because you know personally whether I have any 
claims to the confidence of this administration or not. You, Sir, 
know my fidelity under trying circumstances, but you do not know 
nor never can know the extent of my sacrifices; I will not enlarge 
on them. In my opinion the vilest deceptions have been practiced, 
or else the cause of the administration would never have been 
placed in such hands as it has been. If this Henshaw is sustained, 
we may as well relinquish all attempts to sustain the Administra- 
tion here. Such attempts will be hopeless. I write in confidence 
and with the best intentions. I would have written to Mr. [Levi] 
Woodbury the only administration Senator from New England, 
but report says that some family connection of his is expecting a 
place in the Custom House through the patronage of Henshaw. I 
1 A senator from New York. 2 A senator from Tennessee. 


do hope, Sir, that the President will not persist in forcing upon us 
a character so universally odious. Believe me, Sir, to be yours, with 
the most sincere respect and esteem, 

Francis Baylies. 

To Littleton W. Tazewell. 1 

Taunton, November 17, 1829. 

My dear Sir, — Perhaps I am taking a great liberty, but if I 
am, I must rely on a quality of which I know you to possess an 
abundance for my excuse. 

I take the liberty, Sir, to enclose to you a copy of a letter which 
I have addressed to the President on a local subject. I ask you to 
consider it with the same spirit in which you consider all questions 
— the spirit of a man of honour. 

The conduct of David Henshaw, Collector of Boston, is so stupid 
as well as malignant, that he contrives by every act of power which 
he exercises to make an hundred enemies to the administration and 
no friends. There was, I know, a general disposition amongst our 
more sober-minded and respectable citizens in this quarter, at the 
time General Jackson came into the Presidency, to sustain his ad- 
ministration, and to ask nothing from him but a selection from his 
own party of their most respectable men to fill the offices which 
should be vacated. Some removals they expected, and they ac- 
quiesced in the political necessity which, it was supposed, rendered 
such a course unavoidable; but they cherished the hope that the 
hand of reform would not seize upon such as gained their daily 
bread by their daily labour, and [take] them from employments to 
which they were fashioned by habit, and compel them to seek other 
modes of livelihood for which they had lost the tact. 

You have a specimen of the ruthless conduct which has been 
pursued at Boston in the communication which I have made to the 
President, and I again ask of you as a man of honour, whether this 
Collector ought to be sustained and countenanced by the adminis- 
tration. I know, Sir, that the meanest artifices will be used to pro- 
duce an impression that I am seeking this office, but I certainly 
should hesitate a long time before I took it, if it was offered, dis- 
graced as it has been in this man's hands. I certainly have no 
craving desire to possess it, and would with pleasure see it [in] the 
hands of any man of honour. He has represented me as having 
pushed my claim on this office by direct application. Neither the 
President or the Cabinet or either of them can say that I applied 

1 A senator from Virginia. 

igilj LETTERS OF FRANCIS BAYLIES, 1827-1834. 175 

to them for any office. No friend of mine, no mortal can say, that 
I ever authorized them to make application in my behalf. One of 
the objects of my journey to Washington last spring was to prevent 
the state of things into which we have now fallen, and to endeavour 
to render the pressure of the hand of power as gentle as practicable. 
I had incurred some responsibility, and had given many assurances, 
in which I thought myself warranted, that the course of the Ad- 
ministration would be liberal and magnanimous. If this petty 
despot is suffered to wreak his petty vengeance upon men more 
respectable and deserving than himself, because he was dismissed 
from the direction of a bank a transaction in which they had no 
agency, and thus sacrifice the substantial interests of the party to 
which he professes to belong, to the gratification of his own malig- 
nant temper, he will leave the Administration without a supporter 
amongst the people here. It certainly appears to me to be better 
for them to gain the good will than the ill will of any State, even 
if the opposing State should be Massachusetts. I have written to 
you, Sir, confidentially and truly. . . . 

Permit me with the most sincere respect to subscribe myself 
your friend, 

Francis Baylies. 

To Edward Livingston. 1 

Taunton, November 20, 1829. 

My dear Sir, — If it be wrong to say a word to you on a subject 
about which you may be called to act in the Senate of the United 
States I must look to your charity for my excuse, and rely on the 
correctness of my motives for my justification. A David Henshaw 
has been appointed Collector of the Port of Boston. This appoint- 
ment must have been effected by much deception, and a very false 
estimate must have been put on his character and on the weight of 
his influence. This circumstance has had a paralyzing effect upon 
the exertions of the disinterested friends of General Jackson in this 
State. The administration is now judged only by its appoint- 
ments, as general measures have not as yet furnished the material 
either for praise or censure, and it is requiring too much of any 
honourable friend of the administration that he should justify their 
appointments. You must understand, Sir, that I belong to neither 
of the parties in Boston known by the names of the Statesman and 
the Bulletin, but consider myself in no other light than as one of 
the great administration party. 

This Henshaw has already contrived to render himself so odious 
' A senator from Louisiana. 


and contemptible to all here (except a little knot of miserable black- 
guards who expect little places through his patronage), that the 
hue and cry of the whole community begins to pursue him. He 
acts like a hog in a clover field and seems to think that his whole 
business is to feed and to root. 

You know my whole course during the late controversy, and you 
know whether I ever deserted the banner or ever faultered in one 
instance in my fidelity to the party with whom I was associated, 
and you may therefore judge whether I have the interest of the ad- 
ministration party at heart or not. I understand that this man and 
his partizans is supposed at Washington to represent the old de- 
mocracy of this State. Ten years ago I did not know that there 
[was] such a man in existence. You may therefore judge of his 
standing with the Democratic party. The men with whom he is 
associated were never known at all until they were hauled out of 
their mud holes since his appointment to the Custom-House. 

The descendants of Samuel Adams, the Austins and the Jar- 
visses to a man, as I believe, hold him in utter detestation and con- 
tempt. He has lately displaced the Hon. Wm. C. Jarvis nephew to 
the celebrated Dr. Charles Jarvis, a gentleman of talents, popular 
eloquence, and one who has received many distinguished marks of 
popular favour, from a little office in the Custom House worth 
$1100 per annum, and has supplied his place by one Cunningham a 
Federalist, but a vile one, who betrayed confidential letters as I 
believe for money, and violated every principle of that honourable 
faith which even honourable enemies respect and without which 
the world in all its moral relations would be disorganized. Do you 
think that such a character who would sell his father's good name 
would be inaccessible to a bribe? Another Federalist, John B. Derby, 
was appointed by him to the office of Inspector, but he refused the 
office, through pride I hope, but I do not know. Another Federalist, 
Sam. C. Phillips, through the instrumentality of this man as I un- 
derstand, has been appointed Collector of Newburyport. Through 
the agency of him and his tools another Federalist has been appointed 
P. M. in this Town, and yet I understand that the doctrine which 
he maintains is that none but democrats are entitled to office. The 
fact is that every miserable creature in the community, the refuse 
of both of the old parties who can so far debase themselves as to 
submit to be his tools, are taken up by him with avidity and the 
sin of Federalism is in reality to be visited upon only one, upon me 
alone, and that by the hand of General Jackson!!! To effect this 
he has pursued me with slanders and lies. 

He represents every where that I solicited the office of Collector 

lOH.] LETTERS OF FRANCIS BAYLIES, 1827-1834." 1 177 

of Boston. It is a lie. I can prove it by General Jackson and every 
member of the Cabinet. 

He represents me as having meanly endeavoured to obtain credit 
for writing a series of numbers in the New York papers during the 
Presidential Controversy with a view to aid the election of Gen. 
Jackson, which were finally embodied in four pamphlets, and which 
were not written by me but by my Brother. 1 Now, Sir, I appeal to 
General Wool and Mr. Verplanck, to whom they were transmitted, 
and to the Editor of the Albany Argus, 2 by whom they were pub- 
lished, to say whether I ever endeavoured to obtain any credit at 
all for them, and whether it was not my request that the author 
should not be disclosed, and whether the disclosure was made 
either by my consent knowledge or suggestion; and further as to 
the one called The Contrast, to which Henshaw applied his ob- 
servations, I wrote every word of alone, without communicating 
with any one, and my Brother never knew of it until I shewed it to 
him in the Albany Argus. As to the others they were shewn to him 
but he supplied not a word, some three or four words were omitted 
at his suggestion, and the structure of one or two sentences altered, 
but his emendations were merely verbal. He has represented me 
as a Hartford Convention Federalist. Now, Sir, if I had been a 
Hartford Convention Federalist, I should not think the sin might be 
remitted to me under the circumstances. When that unfortunate 
measure was adopted I had been admitted to practice a little more 
than four years, was a young man and not in political life and could 
act not otherwise than by expressing opinions on measures as they 
came out, amongst those with whom I happened to associate. But 
it so happened that I found myself at that time in the same situa- 
tion here as I have found myself three or four times since, i. e. for 
none can say that the measure of assembling a Convention at Hart- 
ford was not extremely popular at that time in this State, but yet 
my opinions were decidedly against it. Of this I can bring proof 
Federal and Democratic as to my opinions which were expressed 
openly: but of what consequence was my opinion? I was a young 
man without influence, and could manifest in no other way my 
opinion than by expressing it in the circle in which I was placed. 
I give you these as a sample of the lies by which the only man in 
this State who sacrificed station, popularity and business pros- 
pects, to support General J. has been pursued by a fellow, I be- 
lieve, at the time when I was the marked man who uttered foul 
abuse against him. Now, Sir, I do say that if this man is sustained, 
if the belief becomes universal in this quarter that he is a trusted 

1 William Baylies. 2 Edwin Croswell. 



and confidential friend of the Administration, we may as well give 
up the attempt to sustain them in this State, to do which there was 
before his appointment] a strong inclination. I am warranted in 
saying that I speak the feeling of the Community when I say, he 
is utterly odious and contemptible. . . . 

Accept my best wishes for your health and prosperity, and believe 
me to be with great respect, your friend and servant, 

Francis Baylies. 

To John E. Wool. 

My dear General, — Yours of the I have received and most 
warmly accept the tender, and reciprocate the sentiment. 

You mention writing several letters previous to your last. I re- 
ceived but two, one written just before the commencement of your 
tour to the Lakes and one after your return. The reason why the 
first was not answered, was this, I knew you was gone from home. 
The reason why the second was not immediately answered is this — • 
I am afraid of the P. O's l at this time I therefore sent my answer 
by William Crocker to be placed in the N. Y. Office. 

Now I am about putting your friendship to the test, for since I 
have seen you I have engaged in an affair which I should never of 
myself have attempted had it not been for circumstances men- 
tioned in the enclosed copy of a letter which I have written to the 
President the original being contained in the enclosure directed to 
him. This you see is the death struggle between me and Henshaw 
and is a bold experiment on the Character of the Chief. It will be 
received exactly according to the degree of prejudice which exists 
in his mind. If these scoundrels have poisoned it he will be excited 
with anger; if not he may be disposed to search for the real truth. 
At any rate after an appeal of this character has been made to me 
by the late Speaker Jarvis, who has. manifested peculiar good feel- 
ing towards me, I should be a rascal did I not attempt at least to 
save him, and it can be done in no other way than by prostrating 
Henshaw. That is the object we wish to effect. There can be no 
compromise. The affair is submitted to your care so far as that 
you with your own hand will deliver the letter for him, and with 
your own hand the several letters to Mess. White, Livingston, 
Judge Smith 2 and Mr. Tazewell. Thus you see I have now got into 
my hands this tangled webb, whose threads I am endeavouring to 
take up. 

The democratic part of Adams' supporters have now thrown 

1 Post-offices. 2 Samuel Smith, a senator from Maryland. 

ignj LETTERS OF ERANCIS BAYLIES, 1827-1834. 1 79 

themselves upon me, and appealed to my sense of honour [and] 
gratitude, by the special obligations, and in short every feeling 
which ought to regulate one who means to be a good citizen. The 
active and business Federalists have done the same. The Bulletin 
party have done the same. The Dons hug their wealth, and take 
but little interest in passing events. The people are to be appealed 
to, and I am assured from every quarter that the character of Hen- 
shaw is viewed with detestation and contempt by all, and that 
1500 names of the most respectable of the men of business in Boston 
will be attached to the remonstrance for his removal. The clamour 
is now general for my appointment from political friends and political 
enemies, Federalists and Democrats. I have told them to confine 
themselves to a single object, the removal of Henshaw. A good 
general never has but one object, and that is the main one. Every 
thing else is left to your discretion whether to interfere personally 
or not, but the letters we entrust to you. I wish I could write a con- 
nected history Gf the whole movement and of the manner in which 
I became engaged, but it is impossible at present. You will see 
from the copy of the letter to the President the nature of the attempt. 
This fellow must be prostrated or all who compose this adminis- 
tration will be prostrated here. They have guild both Calhoun and 
Van Buren. And unless both can get rid of them, the State of 
Massachusetts is dead against them. Perhaps it may not be for 
Clay if the system is changed. One other copy of the letter is en- 
closed to Judge White of Tennessee in whose honour and sagacity I 
have great faith. I wish I could forward to you copies of all the 
letters which I have written to the Senators but have not time. 1 


1 He appears to have written to nineteen members of Congress on this subject. 
Some of his reasons against writing to others were: 

"I should have written to Mr. Woodbury but I cannot satisfy myself as to 
the relation between him and Henshaw. It has been confidential but I now be- 
lieve there is bitter enmity — yet it may be confidential again. 

"I should also have written to Colonel Benton with whom I have ever main- 
tained a relation of the most friendly character, but Colonel Benton brought 
Duff Green from Missouri. 

"With Governor Dickerson my relations have been the same; but I cannot 
tell how far he may have imbibed the notion that Henshaw has superseded the 
descendants of Samuel Adams, the Austins and the Jarvisses, as a representative 
of the old democracy of Massachusetts. He should be undeceived but perhaps 
I am not the best person to do it. 

"To Mr. Dudley of N. Y. I should have written, but cannot ascertain the ex- 
tent of the political connection between Van Buren and Henshaw. 

"To Colonel Hayne of S. C. I should have written, for I know Hayne to be a 
man of intellect and honour, but I am not exactly [certain] how far he would go 
to sustain Mr. Calhoun to whom he is devoted." 


To John W. Taylor? 1 

Boston, January 29, 1830. 

My dear Sir, — Yours of the was received in due season, 

and also two documents since. The letter of which you speak was 
entrusted to a private conveyance, and that is the reason why it 
was not sooner received by you. Be pleased, Sir, to accept for 
these and for many other testimonials of good will and friendship 
my most grateful acknowledgments. I hope you will continue 
your favours, and enlighten me as to the true state of affairs. You 
must know that I am singled out by a desperate and contemptible 
knot of political adventurers as a mark for calumny, secret detrac- 
tion and secret persecution, and of all the friends of General Jack- 
son in New England, I alone have positively suffered in the cause, 
and am in a worse situation than I was before. It was very easy 
for me to have retained my seat in Congress had I yielded to the 
multitude and swam with the current, but I had something which 
is called principle or which I thought was principle. Mr. Adams I 
knew well and therefore it was that I could not support him. General 
Jackson I thought I knew, and therefore it was that I supported 

If from your more important avocations you could sometimes 
snatch a few moments and favour me with your views on current 
events, you would do me an essential favour. I have not seen Mrs. 
Baylies since the receipt of your letter; for although I live but a 
short distance from Boston, yet I have been for the last ten days 
tied down in our Legislature trying in my humble way, to prevent 
what I think a ruinous attempt, which may involve our State in 
many calamities. We are infected with the epidemic madness of 
the times and without a dollar in the Treasury or any solid re- 
sources. A scheme of internal improvement is thrown upon us, 
involving an expenditure of ten millions which is supported by the 
principal political characters of the State. None are averse to 
projects of improvement, but we wish to commence moderately and 
to shape our efforts according to our means. This has prevented 
me from returning. I shall, however, return tomorrow, and will in 
due form present your remembrances to her. 

Should you have leisure to comply with my request please to 
direct to Taunton. 

Be pleased Sir to accept my best wishes for your health and 
prosperity. Remember me kindly to Miss Taylor, and believe me 
to be, with sincere respect, your Friend and obedt. Servt. 

Francis Baylies. 

1 M. C. from New York. 

ignj LETTERS OF FRANCIS BAYLIES,! 1827-1834. l8l 

To William Baylies. 

Taunton, February 9th, 1834. 

My dear Sir, — From mere ennui I went to Boston last Tues- 
day, and remained until Saturday. There is nothing very interest- 
ing to relate of the Tremont. Old Boyden eats devilled Steaks for 
supper, and I got into his mess. Dwight Boyden x has got married 
and Stetson has got back. Old Whitney 2 is laid up with the gout, 
and Munson "een tho vanquish'd he can argue still." 3 Reed 4 
soaks a little, George Perkins not so much and is very benevolent. 
The pride of the navy has the handsomest sleigh in Boston, and 
Poppet looks divinely. Bates has married Mrs. Killman and grows 
rusty. Chapman 5 is down to attend the General Court, with his 
fascinating wife and beautiful little girl; his next boy is to be called 
William Baylies. My friend Slacum who is here sports Harriet 
against the world, and declares as I understand in all companies 
that she is the most wonderful child in both the America's like 
Gen. Wheeler's song 

As for beauty and good sense, 
She does exceed to the extent. 

He had Gen. Sullivan's son John to dine with him on Friday, who 
I think one of the most wonderful characters in America. His per- 
sonations of Uncle Ben and other Yankee characters, Mr. Kemble 
and Mr. Wood pronounce to be far superior to those of Matthews. 
On the guitar and piano he is great, in singing greater, and Garrick 
himself would have been puzzled to have better personated George 
Blake 6 when reading a newspaper at the Suffolk, his rising to spit 
in the fire, and his comments, etc. Col. Dwight goes the entire 
animal Kitchin Cabinet and all, and makes better speeches than 
any man in the House. Saltonstall seems as Tillinghast did one 
day after dinner when he was for taking up the line of march for 
Dr. Barstow 7 and Mr. Byers, 8 two '98 democrats and Senators 

1 Dwight, Frederick and Simeon Boyden were connected with the Tremont 
House at this time. 

2 Josiah Whitney, merchant, then living at the Tremont House. 

3 Israel Munson, merchant. lb. 

4 John T. Reed, of Faulkner and Reed, English goods. lb. 
6 Henry Chapman, of Greenfield, Mass. 

6 A prominent Boston lawyer and politician, and for many years United 
States District Attorney. He died in 1841. 

7 Gideon Barstow, from Essex County. 

8 Jarres Byers, from Hampden County. 


of Mass., now swear there is nothing so odious as democracy, that 
money and talents ought to make Aristocrats, and Aristocrats thus 
made ought to control public opinion. Comment, both are very 
rich. Even Col. McKay doubts whether democracy helps a man 
much after he is 40 years old. 

Shaw says he is willing to play second riddle to no man but Wm. 
Baylies, under him he is willing to be Lieutenant Governor. 

Miss Fanny Kemble is delighting the public, but her lover Peirce 
Butler looks sneaking. 

Old Daniel Davis * thinks Speaker Calhoun Speaker of the United 

A duel has been fought or acted on old Moses Brown's farm, and 
the moral and religious people on this subject are enragees. The 
quarrel grew out of a woman, Miss Marshall, sister to Otis's wife. 2 
She was here a short time ago on a visit to Harrison Pratt. No 
body here would have fought a duel with gravel stones for her. One 
party was one of the Marblehead Hoopers and the other a young 
Jones from North Carolina, 3 who has been collecting authorities 
here for a history of North Carolina of which State he is Secretary 
and has written a life of Gaston. I would as soon undertake to 
write a history of Pawtucket as North Carolina, but the duel of a 
distinguished son had it not been bloodless, might have made an 
incident, — the second forgot the words ! 

The Antimasons are now High Church and Low Church. A 
serious Schism has taken place from the great desire amongst some 
of their leaders such as Pliny Merrick, 4 etc., to get Governor Lin- 
coln 5 into Congress, which will be effective. Mike Ruggles 6 and 
Hallett 7 are for war to the knife and war to the hilt. 'Tother day, 
Mike called little Allen 8 of Worcester, another Antimason, a little 

1 An eminent lawyer, at one time solicitor of Massachusetts. He died at 
Cambridge in 1835. 

2 Emily Marshall, often called the "beautiful Miss Marshall," married Wil- 
liam Foster Otis. She was daughter of Josiah Marshall. 

3 Joseph Seawell Jones, of Shocco, North Carolina. An amusing account oi 
this " duel " will be found in George N. Evans' " Reminiscence of Joe Sewali 
Jones," in Publications of the Southern History Association, x. 144. Cooper is 
there given as the name of his antagonist. Another and different account is 
in R. B. Creecy's " What I know about 'Shocco' Jones," in Series II of the 
Historical Papers, published by the Historical Society of Trinity College, Dur- 
ham, N. C, 31. 

4 1794-1867. 

5 He succeeded John Davis, who had resigned his seat in Congress. 

6 Micah H. Ruggles, of Troy, Bristol County. 

7 Benjamin F. Hallett, editor of the Daily Advocate. 

8 Charles Allen. 

ignj LETTERS OF FRANCIS BAYLIES, 1827-1834. 183 

dog and bark'd at him in the General Court. The Antimasons of 
this County say they are sick of Mike. 

Money, money, money is the constant cry. 1 One day I went into 
State Street and met Buckingham 2 after money. He wanted $100, 
and declared he did not know where to get it. John D. Williams 3 
was the next, and he had turned all his ardor into another channel, 
forgot Antimasonry, and seemed fully persuaded that the Ad- 
ministration were worse than the Masons. I went into the City 
Bank to sit a while with Williams. 4 While I was there, six or eight 
came in with the best of paper as they said. Very sorry, sir, we 
cannot accommodate you, sir; we have no means, was the un- 
varying response. Our old friend from Norton 5 is at Boston and 
has plunged in medias res. He gets 16, 18 and 20 per cent. His 
son in law, Dr. Strong 6 (a sharp one), operates for him. He cer- 
tainly will fetch 90 and possibly 100. Williams says money is con- 
stantly coming in from the country. Hoards long hidden from the 
light are brought out and placed on good security, on an interest all 
the way from 12 to 20 per cent. Truly if this is a battle between 
the poor and the rich the rich will gain it. John A. Parker was 
compelled to exhibit; he shewed $687,000, after meeting every 
liability. The. joint security of Nat Russell with Barna. Hedge and 
N. M. Davis was doubted for a while. 7 One says, Old Hickory ought 
to be hung. Another says, Old Hickory would be honest if it was 
not for that damd, sneaking, Kinderhook, low dutch Jacobin of a 
Van Buren. A third is for a rising. A fourth says, the Union an't 
worth a damn. A fifth says, suspend specie payments. Another 
says, Calhoun and McDufiie 8 are great men, and true patriots. 
Another says, their nullification is all a humbug and ought to be 
forgotten: — the milliners are the best men we have. Damn the 
pet bank, says another, and all the feather merchants and brim- 
stone traders, and the Kitchen Cabinet, head and tail. Another 
says, hang Taney, Amos Kendall, and Whitney side by side. When 
the news of Knower's 9 failure came, there was a general whira! 

1 The letter was written during the disturbances that accompanied Jackson's 
attack on the Bank of the United States, and his experiments in government 

2 Either Joseph T. or Joseph H. Buckingham, editors of the Boston Courier. 

3 A wine merchant at 33 South Market street. 

4 Probably Eliphalet Williams, the cashier of the City Bank. 
6 Daniel Wheaton (1 767-1841). 

6 Dr. Woodbridge Strong. 

7 All of Plymouth. 

8 George McDuffie, of South Carolina. 

9 Benjamin Knower, of New York. Van Buren was not involved in the 
failure. , 


Damn the Regency Bank. Van Buren must be on his paper. I 
hope the whole will go and the whole string of western regency 
Banks. 1 Oh tis glorious says one who reads Shakespeare "to see 
the Engineer hoisted with his own petard." 

I wish the Government would tell the American people whether 
they approve or condemn my conduct at Buenos Ayres. 2 I take it 
for granted that they are now convinced that they will have no 
Minister from there. A fair field and the whole told. I ask no 
favors. I have the President's approbation signified to me offi- 
cially by Mr. Livingston, 3 and yet it would seem as though they 
were keeping me in reserve to act with me according to circum- 
stances. We are all well, and all send our love to yourself, General 
and Mrs. Wool. Yours airways, 

Francis Baylies. 

Remarks were made during the meeting by Messrs. Norcross, 
Hart, Davis, Rhodes, and Dana. 

1 A reference to the Albany Regency, and to the banks favoured by being 
made depositories of the United States revenues. 

2 He had been charge d'affaires from January 3 to September 3, 1832. 

3 Edward Livingston. 



The stated meeting was held on Thursday, the 14th instant, 
at three o'clock, p. m.; the first Vice-President, in the absence 
of the President, in the chair. 

The record of the last meeting was read and approved; and 
the Librarian read the list of donors to the Library during the 
last month. 

The Corresponding Secretary reported the receipt of a letter 
from Gamaliel Bradford, Jr., accepting his election as a Resident 

The Cabinet-Keeper reported gifts from the estate of Mrs. 
William B. Rogers, of a photograph of a group of members of 
the Society taken in 1855, and a woodcut of Thomas Savage, 
who came from London to Boston in 1635; from Edward 
Webster Foster, of New York, of a reproduction of a silhouette 
of Samuel Foster, a member of the Boston Tea Party, and 
captain in Colonel Greaton's Massachusetts regiment in the 
Revolution; from Katharine Norton Lewis, of Boston, of a 
silver Mexican dollar of 186 1, and a carved walrus tusk. 

The Editor reported gifts of manuscripts as follows: from 
Miss Mary P. Nichols, of Boston, ten letters and manuscript 
sermons, all but two belonging to the seventeenth century, and 
including such names as William Brattle, Josiah Cotton and 
Shubael Dummer; from Archibald M. Howe, twenty-eight 
pieces, being letters of James Murray and others, and seven 
letters of William Hooper, signer of the Declaration of Inde- 
pendence; from Grenville H. Norcross, a letter of Nathan 
Fiske (1787), and a manuscript sermon (1757-1787); from 
Mr. Wendell, a notarial register, 1 758-1 766, of maritime 
causes, replete with valuable information upon the trade be- 
tween New England and the West Indies, the mercantile cus- 
toms and casualties in time of war, and the controversies and 
cargoes arising from the commerce. 

. *4 t " 


The Editor also communicated a memoir of Josiah P. Quincy, 
prepared by Mr. Howe. 

The Vice-President announced the appointment, by the 
Council, of Mr. Bradford to fill the vacancy on the Com- 
mittee of Publication of the Bradford History. 

Justin Harvey Smith, of Boston, was elected a Resident 
Member of the Society. 

The Vice-President remarked that, by the election of Mr. 
Smith, the list of Resident Members of the Society is now full, 
as are also the lists of Honorary and Corresponding Members. 
This condition of membership in the three rolls has not ex- 
isted for a long period of time. 

Dr. Green then read the following paper on 

Recollections of the Rebellion. 

Agreeably to the suggestion of Mr. Adams that I should 
give at this meeting my recollections of Messrs. James Murray 
Mason and John Slidell, and other prisoners confined at Fort 
Warren, near the beginning of the War of the Rebellion, I will 
try to do so, though they are dimmed by the mists of time. 
These reminiscences, in the main sifted through the lapse of 
half a century, are both few and faint, but certain incidents 
were impressed in detail so deep in my memory that a life- 
time is not long enough to forget them. 

During the War I witnessed many events that have become 
of historic interest, but from the want on my part of a due 
appreciation of their influence on the great questions of the 
day, I paid little attention to them at the time of their occur- 
rence. But not so in my intercourse with the two commis- 
sioners of the South, whom I met several times a day in a social 
and informal manner. They both were gentlemen of educa- 
tion, and of great political prominence in their section of the 
country. While I could not smooth the roughness nor in any 
way soften the asperities of the situation, I had it in my power 
in some slight degree to relieve the friction that necessarily 
existed. All parcels sent from this city to the Fort, particularly 
such packages as were supposed to contain bottles, were ex- 
amined by a proper officer at the landing where the steamer came 
twice a day, bringing food and other necessary articles for a 


large number of men. Anything addressed to me or the Medi- 
cal Department — of which I was then at the head — was 
passed without delay or examination. I knew that the com- 
missioners, while leading their customary life, used stimulants 
which cheer but not inebriate, when taken in moderation; and 
I felt it to be my social duty, as well as professional, to keep 
them in their usual and regular habits. 

In going my rounds each morning I used to make a long 
visit in their quarters, as I took much pleasure in talking with 
them. Often I would spend an hour there. They both had 
been United States Senators and had seen much of public life 
in Washington and elsewhere, and were familiar with the great 
questions of the day. While they were rampant rebels, and 
never ceased in their violent denunciations against the govern- 
ment, for unaccountable reasons I enjoyed my relations with 
them. Perhaps it was the fascination exerted by two men, then 
very much in the public eye, over a young man who had never 
before heard treason talked so openly and who at that time was 
studying the question from a student's or a psychological point 
of view. 

I remember that Mr. Slidell once mentioned to me that he 
was a Northern man by birth, and that he was educated at a 
Northern college, at which I was somewhat astonished. This 
statement I found, later, to be strictly correct; though a few 
years after graduation he removed to Louisiana, where he 
became eminent as a lawyer and prominent as a politician. 
He was always an ardent supporter of the doctrines of State- 
rights, and he declined a cabinet appointment under President 
Buchanan. I remember well he told me one morning that, just 
as soon as the English government heard of the "outrage " — 
as he called it — on the steamer Trent, the authorities in Lon- 
don would demand the immediate surrender of the two com- 
missioners with an apology from the American government 
for the act. If this demand was not complied with at once by 
the authorities here, war would be declared by Great Britain. 
He said furthermore that he expected by the beginning of the 
new year to be on his way to England, together with Mr. 
Mason, his colleague, after being released from the Fort by 
orders from Washington. If war was declared by England, a 
naval fcrce would be sent to our shores, and the blockade along 


the Southern coast would be raised in less than six weeks; and 
then the Confederacy would become an acknowledged fact. 
He thought that Mr. Lincoln's administration would foresee 
this state of affairs and release them at once. 

To all this I listened attentively and respectfully, but made no 
reply. I had no knowledge of international law, and I could 
give no satisfactory answer to his statements. The newspapers, 
however, were discussing the question freely, and their columns 
were full of leaders on the subject. So far as I had any opinion 
on the law, it was gained from the public prints; and, of course, 
that was not the view taken by the commissioners. 

The newspapers hereabouts very generally, unanimously so 
far as my recollection goes, upheld the stand taken by Captain 
Wilkes, of the San Jacinto; and they reflected accurately 
public sentiment in the matter. A complimentary dinner was 
given at the Revere House to Captain Wilkes and his officers, 
at which the Governor of the Commonwealth, the Mayor of 
the city, and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, together 
with other prominent citizens, spoke and all warmly applauded 
the act of Captain Wilkes. They seemed to vie with each other 
in giving praise to the daring naval officer and in bestowing 
compliments on him. 

During the next few weeks, however, I noticed that Mr. 
Slidell's prediction came true. This was owing to the foresight 
of Mr. Seward, which involved a master stroke of diplomacy 
on his part. When the demand was made by the English govern- 
ment for the surrender of the commissioners, the Secretary of 
State in substance replied, that they should be liberated most 
readily, and that our action in this matter was in accordance 
with principles which the United States had always held and 
long maintained. He furthermore said that it was a matter of 
special congratulation that the British government had dis- 
avowed its former claims, namely, the right of search of foreign 
vessels in time of peace; and that it was now contending for 
what the United States had always insisted upon. 

At this juncture the United States was in a tight fix. If Mr. 
Seward had not taken the course he did, the alternative was 
war with England, and the raising of the blockade of the 
Southern ports. This meant success for the seceding States. 
He displayed great wisdom in his policy. He showed that his 


action in this matter was entirely consistent with the great 
underlying principles long held by the American government; 
and thus he forestalled the criticism that was sure to be made by 
his own countrymen. 

It so happened that some years previously I had known Mr. 
Slidell's secretary, George Eustis, in Washington, when he was 
a member of Congress from Louisiana. His father was a native 
of Boston and a nephew of Governor William Eustis. As 
George Eustis was now held in military custody, I tried to 
make his position as agreeable as possible under existing cir- 
cumstances. We talked of our former acquaintanceship; and 
our present relations under unforeseen conditions were mutually 

It also happened that I had had a slight bowing acquaintance 
with Mr. Mason's secretary, James Edward Macfarland, who 
was a student in the Harvard Law School, where he took his 
LL.B. in the Class of 1849, while I was an undergraduate in 
college. It seemed to me very odd and strange that the ex- 
igencies of war should have brought together, now under vastly 
different circumstances, three chance acquaintances of a former 
period within the solid walls of a strong fort, but such is the 
whirligig of Time, and the irony of Fate! 

The membership of the college as well as of the professional 
schools then was much smaller than it is now, and the inter- 
course between the young men of the various communities 
correspondingly closer than at present. The classes nowadays 
are more than ten times as large as in my day; and the dis- 
parity in numbers accounts for the greater intercourse at that 
period. Under the present circumstances it was my pleasure 
as well as duty to smooth the rough places and to soften the 
hard spots that lay in the paths of these two young men. They 
were fresh from Cuba, and well supplied with cigars — genuine 
Havanas — and I could supplement an evening's entertain- 
ment with other luxuries in keeping with the occasion. It was 
pleasant for me to do so, and presumably for them also. 

So far as my knowledge goes, these prisoners never complained 
of the restraints under which they were held. They were al- 
lowed opportunity to take air and exercise as their health re- 
quired; and they were permitted to write and receive unsealed 
letters, which were examined by proper officers, who were to 


see that they did not contain seditious sentiments. Personal 
intercourse with outsiders was not allowed except by permission 
from the authorities in Washington. 

Less than two years later I was brought often into personal 
contact with Lieutenant D. M. Fairfax, 1 who had taken the 
two rebel commissioners from the English steamer Trent. In 
the early spring of 1863 my regiment (the 24th Massachusetts) 
had occupied Seabrook Island which commanded Seabrook Inlet, 
sometimes called North Edisto Inlet, very near Charleston 
harbor, subsequently a place of rendezvous for half a dozen 
monitors which were to take part in the assault on Fort Wagner 
and Fort Sumter. During the month of June, a hot season off 
the coast of South Carolina, life on an iron-clad was as uncom- 
fortable as it could well be, and in any description of the weather 
it might be compared to what Sherman said war was. In con- 
sequence of this extreme heat the naval officers passed much of 
their time ashore, where I met them often. Of the several 
commanders one was Fairfax, now in charge of a monitor. 
In our frequent intercourse we spoke of the Trent episode, 
but never spent much time on the subject, as it was then a 
back number. 

On another occasion I dined at the same table with Charles 
Bunker Dahlgren, 2 eldest son of Rear Admiral Dahlgren,who in a 
ship's cutter accompanied Lieutenant Fairfax, going from the 
San Jacinto. In this way I heard anew the description of the 
scene which took place aboard the Trent when the commis- 
sioners were transferred. 

After all, the world is rather small, and one is apt in any 
quarter of the globe to run across somebody he has met some- 
where or has known before. But Mason and Slidell were not 
the only men of distinction who were in custody at the Fort. 
There was Mr. Charles James Faulkner, who had been United 
States Minister to France, where he was appointed by President 
Buchanan. He had been prominent as a politician in Virginia 
and a member of Congress from that Commonwealth. He 
was a man of education and refinement, and an agreeable person 
to meet. It was said that he had influenced the French emperor 
to sympathize with the South in their struggle, for which 
reason he was recalled by President Lincoln. On his return to 
1 Donald MacNeill Fairfax. 2 Died, January 10, 191 2. 


this country he was arrested as a disloyal citizen and confined 
in Fort Warren. At a later period he was exchanged for a 
member of Congress, Alfred Ely, of New York, who had been 
confined in Libby Prison, at Richmond, after his capture at 
the first Battle of Bull Run. 

Other political prisoners were George W. Brown, 1 Mayor of 
Baltimore, Governor Charles S. Morehead, 2 of Kentucky, and 
Marshal George P. Kane, 3 of Baltimore, all prominent in the 
early days of the Rebellion as sympathizers with the South, but 
who lived to see their hopes crushed. There were also a thousand 
men, more or less, who had been captured at Hatteras Inlet, 
when the two forts there had been taken. They were about 
as motley a crew as could easily be collected, varying in their 
ages from sixteen to sixty years. Their clothing was anything 
but uniform, and in their appearance might well be compared 
to Falstaff's soldiers near Coventry. These men, I remember, 
were very proud of the name "rebel," and wished to be known 
as rebels. They never would give up the struggle and were 
ready to die in the last ditch. During the campaign of the 
next year in North Carolina, after some of the battles and 
skirmishes in that State, I met several of these men again who 
had been duly exchanged for Union soldiers held by the rebels 
as prisoners. 

During the time of my service at the Fort I received a note 
from a distinguished citizen of Boston, 4 and a member of this 
Society, whose loyalty to the government was undoubted and 
whose liberality was unlimited, authorizing me to buy for Mr. 
Eustis anything needed for his comfort or pleasure. After 
the receipt of the note I called on the writer and told him what 
in my opinion would be most acceptable to the gentleman in 
question, who in this matter represented the group from the 
Trent. I was then given a carte blanche to procure whatever was 
wanted by them and to distribute the articles as I saw fit. In 

1 George William Brown, who served as mayor less than one year, having 
been elected on a "reform" ticket. He was one of the Founders of the Mary- 
land Historical Society in 1844. 

2 Charles Slaughter Morehead (1802-1868). He resided in England during 
the war, and passed his last years on his plantation near Greenville, Mississippi. 

3 George Proctor Kane (181 7-1878), a merchant, who had been collector of 
customs at Baltimore. He was mayor of the city at the time of his death. 

4 Wilh'am Appleton. 


accordance with these liberal instructions I bought fruit, 
flowers and other luxuries that were conducive to their comfort 
or pleasure; and at the same time I was careful to let the 
recipients know the source of the bounty. 

While there was not one drop of blood in my veins sympathiz- 
ing with the attempt to break up the Union, I did feel a sort of 
compassion and pity for these prisoners, — they were men of 
education and refinement, and now bereft of all the pleasures 
that go with Thanksgiving cheer; and I tried to treat them as I 
would have wished my friends to be treated in a similar situa- 
tion. It was a source of some satisfaction to me that I was 
able to enliven in a slight degree the tedious hours of their 
monotonous life. When I took my leave of them, they wished 
me health and happiness; and I watched the outcome of the 
arrest with much interest. The two commissioners died within 
a few weeks of each other some years after the end of the war. 

The two following papers are copied from the Executive 
Letter Files at the State House; and they give the reasons why 
the 24th Massachusetts Volunteers were ordered to Fort Warren: 

September 28, [1861.] 
Colonel Thomas A. Scott, 

Assistant Secretary of War, Washington, D. C. 

Sir, — I am instructed by His Excellency Governor Andrew to 
acknowledge the receipt of your communication of 24th inst., and 
to state that Massachusetts is now organizing eight regiments 
of infantry, one of cavalry and three batteries of artillery, besides 
which recruiting is going on here for the regular army to fill vacan- 
cies in the regiments from this State now in the field and for the 
regiments of other States. 

The Governor is therefore anxious to avoid any steps which 
might delay the filling up of these regiments by starting any new 
organization at present, and if a company is to be raised especially 
to guard the prisoners at Fort Warren it would in effect take so 
many men from these regiments. 

It would seem to him moreover that raw recruits entirely un- 
drilled and undisciplined ought hardly to be entrusted with this 
delicate duty. And again one company could not furnish a sufficient 
guard, with the proper relief, for so large a work: as when it was 
garrisoned by Massachusetts volunteers a whole company was 
required for the guard each day. 


The Governor therefore would suggest that instead of raising a 
new company for this duty he should be allowed to place in Fort 
Warren one of the regiments he is now raising. The 24th Mass. 
Volunteers, Colonel Thomas G. Stevenson, would answer admirably 
for this duty. Colonel Stevenson was in command of Fort Inde- 
pendence, Boston Harbor, for two months last spring, and dis- 
tinguished himself by the neatness, order and discipline he enforced 
as well as by the drill of his battalion. This battalion is being now 
increased to a regiment — it numbers at present but 400 men; 
but these are well uniformed, equipped and drilled, and commanded 
by officers who are gentlemen of education and experience. The 
regiment while guarding the prisoners could go on with its own 
organization, and when ready to march its place might be supplied 
by another. 

By this plan the expense of a new company would also be saved. 

I am further to request that if this plan meets your approval 
you will please answer by telegraph. Very respectfully, 

Harrison Ritchie, 
Lt. Col. and A. D. C. 1 

Executive Department. 
Telegram. Boston, Oct. 16, 1861. 1 

To Lieut. General [Winfield] Scott, 
Washington, D. C. 

Failing to receive authority for muster of Colonel Stevenson 
into service, have ordered Lieutenant-Colonel Francis A. Osborn, 
Twenty-fourth Regiment Massachusetts Volunteers, with two 
hundred men, into Fort Warren, where he will be ready to receive 
prisoners on and after Saturday [the nineteenth]. Have also noti- 
fied Col. Loomis. 

A. G. Browne, Jr., 
Lieut. Col. and Military Sec'y, 2 

The following letter will explain itself. When I called on 
the writer, as already mentioned, I found him in feeble 
health, and he lived only a short time afterward. He died at 
Longwood, on February 15, 1862, at the age of seventy-five 

Boston Nov 23 rd 1861 

Dear Sir, — I asked you to ascertain what was required and 
essential to the comfort of those confined at Fort Warren. My son 

1 Executive -Letter Files, v. 481-483- 2 M. vi. 318. 



Charles tells me, you said that fruit would be very acceptable. 
The season for fruit, as you are aware, has not been good; and we 
have almost none at this time except apples. 

Among the prisoners daily expected, is Mr. Eustis in whom I have 
much interest from personal acquaintance and a long intimacy with 
his family to whom I am under many obligations. I wrote him 
some days since, proffering my services in any way consistent with 
our position, and the unhappy state of our Country. I have no 
knowledge of what is allowed to be communicated between those 
once intimate, and now severed and struggling for the destruction of 
each other. 

It must be very troublesome to the Commander to examine so 
many communications as must be brought to his eye; but lest I 
aggravate the evil, I will to the point. 

When attending Congress in July, as I was told, Mr. Eustis and 
wife were on their way to Washington, and again that he was de- 
tained in Alabama by fever, and that afterwards they were at the 
White Sulphur Springs in Virginia, for his health; whatever may 
have been his success in gaining health the transition to our climate 
must be fearful. Please see him, and inform me on the subject. 
I have said to him, that he would want some warm clothing &c, 
and to send to me for it and it should be attended to. I sent him 
some wine, and newspapers, some days since. The periodicals, such 
as the London Westminster and Edinboro Reviews, I would cheer- 
fully send him if desired. You are aware my health would not 
allow me to visit the Fort were I permitted so to do. 

Should you get this in time to write me in reply on Monday, I 
wish you particularly so to do, as I expect to be absent from Boston 
for some days. Sincerely yours 

Wm. Appleton. 

D r Green, Fort Warren. 

I am tempted to add to this paper a bit of personal matter 
which has no connection with the Mason and Slidell affair, 
though it relates to the War of the Rebellion. I was among 
the last persons that ever had any long conversation with 
Robert Gould Shaw, the brave and fearless Colonel of the 54th 
Massachusetts Volunteers (a colored regiment), who lost his 
life in the assault on Fort Wagner. His regiment was drawn up 
on the beach, together with other troops, directly in front of 
my tent on Morris Island. Having known Bob Shaw and his 
father's family for many years, I stepped down to the beach 
and had a long talk with him. He was moving about at random 


among his officers and men, some of whom I knew; and the 
subject of conversation among them was anything but what 
was uppermost in their minds. Everybody knew that there was 
to be a fearful fight, and that each one stood on the edge of a 
perilous battle; but this was not talked about. Everybody 
tried to be cheerful, but the clouds hung low. Soon the column 
started to march up the beach; and it was not long before the 
roar of cannon and the rattle of musketry proclaimed the fact 
that the battle had begun. In due time we had visible 
proof of it by the arrival of the wounded at the Post Hospital 
which was under my charge as Chief Medical Officer of the 

To me July 18, the day of attack on Fort Wagner, was a 
memorable anniversary, as just two years before a sharp skir- 
mish took place in Virginia, which is now known as the fight 
at Blackburn's Ford, the forerunner of the first Bull Run, 
where I was present. A few days after the assault I accom- 
panied Dr. John J. Craven, Medical Director of the Depart- 
ment of the South, aboard the hospital ship Cosmopolitan, 
under a flag of truce, which sailed up under the guns of Fort 
Sumter, where we were met by another steamer coming from 
Charleston, with surgeons in charge of our wounded, when we 
exchanged prisoners. On that occasion we received more men 
than we gave, as so many of ours had fallen in Fort Wagner 
that the defenders had the advantage of us in the numbers 
captured. While engaged in this exchange of prisoners I im- 
proved the opportunity to swap late New York newspapers 
for those of Charleston with the Southern medical officers. 
In going back to Morris Island I examined with much in- 
terest the account there given of the assault on the Fort. 
One account said that a young officer with Colonel's shoulder 
straps was killed, and undoubtedly he was Colonel Shaw; and 
it added that they had buried him with his niggers. This ex- 
pression seemed to me, for various reasons, to be in bad taste. 
On my return to the Island I took this newspaper to General 
Gillmore and gave it to him. 

Two or three days before the attack on Wagner there was a 
skirmish on James Island in which Shaw's men met with some 
loss. It was the first time that this colored regiment had ever 
been in action, and they received great credit for their conduct 


under fire. The engagement was commanded by General Terry, 
on whose staff I was then serving. 

The skirmish was fought over a low bit of sandy land near 
the coast, covered with marsh grass of considerable height; 
and the ground was honeycombed with the holes of fiddler- 
crabs. Word came to me that the bodies of some of the colored 
men killed in this fight had been mutilated by the enemy; and 
I felt it to be my duty to look into the matter and find out the 
truth. With that object in view, after the action I walked over 
the field, examining carefully the ground and looking for the 
mutilated remains of soldiers. As a result I found several 
bodies, which were almost wholly concealed by the tall marsh 
grass; and, sure enough, the small crabs had eaten away the 
cuticle in spots off the faces of the dead men, leaving a grue- 
some sight. The little wretches had attacked parts under the 
eyes, behind the ears, and other tender places; and there were 
scores of the ravenous crustaceans still at work when I found 
them, which disappeared as if by magic, as soon as they were 
disturbed. This discovery explained satisfactorily the rumors 
then circulating among the men. I went at once to Colonel 
Shaw and reported to him the facts, telling him at the same 
time that he had better return with me and see the exact state 
of affairs for himself, which he promptly did. The Colonel was 
soon satisfied that my statement was correct. I was afraid 
that some exaggerated account would get into the partisan 
newspapers of the North, and make a mountain out of a mole- 
hill. My only object was to settle the matter aright. So far 
as my knowledge goes, the subject was never mentioned in 
the public prints. 

Shaw was a brave officer and was buried where he fell; and 
today he fills an unknown grave. His memory, however, is 
preserved both in bronze and marble elsewhere, and it is of 
little moment where his mortal remains lie. His name has been 
given to schools in different parts of the country, where it is 
cherished by the rising generation. He never thought of fame, 
but only of duty; and in his death he gained the one and did 
the other. 

Facts lie at the foundations of history, and they are the raw 
material of all narrative writing; and this is my excuse for 
adding a bit of personal matter. 


Mr. Jonathan Smith read a paper on 

Town Grants under Belcher. 

Among the Belcher papers, printed in the Society's Proceedings, 1 
19 10, is the answer of Governor Belcher to a petition filed by 
Andrew Wiggin and others with the King and Council, setting 
forth the grievances of New Hampshire people against the 
Governor; and though not in terms asking for his removal, 
yet such was its intent and purpose. The complaint makes 
several charges of misconduct and among others this one: 

And those Persons with whom your Majesty hath intrusted the 
Power of granting the unappropriated Land within this Province 
[New Hampshire], and who have, since the Judgement of the Com- 
missioners, granted the only Tract of Land unappropriated, and out 
of Controversy, to Persons, the most of whom were great Opposers 
of the Settlement of the Lines, and who never contributed one Penny 
toward the Charge that hath attended it. Innumerable Instances of 
this Nature induce us to supplicate your Majesty for Relief. 

The judgment of the Commissioners alluded to is the report 
of the Board appointed by the Crown and nominated by the 
Board of Trade, from the Provinces of Nova Scotia, Rhode 
Island, New Jersey and New York, to whom was referred the 
whole matter of the Boundary question. 2 It reported September 
2, 1737, 3 and gave an alternative decision, to the disgust and 
chagrin of the contending parties and from which both promptly 
appealed. Whether the beneficiaries of the offending grant had 
contributed to the expense of the hearing there is no informa- 
tion. The bill of the Commissioners alone was £1297 Ss. 4J, 
which was divided between the two Colonies. 4 

To this charge Governor Belcher replied, that as Governor it 
" seems verry Extraordinary Considering what former Gover- 
nors have done of that kind, and what large Shares of new Town- 
ships, heretofore granted, have been or are now enjoyed by 
almost every Member in the present Assembly," and he goes 
on to say that the power of granting land was given to the 
Governor and his Council, and unless the grant complained of 

1 Proceedings, xliv. 191. 2 N. H. State Papers, xvin. 62. 

3 lb. xix. 391. 4 lb. 421. 


was to unsuitable persons, the petitioners had no right to 

The allegations made were true, — that after the report of 
the Commissioners Governor Belcher had granted away all the 
unappropriated lands of the province ; the Governor's answer of 
confession; and that it was a "verry Extraordinary" charge 
in the light of the record of former Governors, and coming 
also from men who had previously received land under such 

The petition referred to is dated November 4th, 1737, and is 
signed by Andrew Wiggin, John Rindge, Samuel Smith, John 
Smith, J. Odiorne, Jr., Thomas Packer and George Walton. 
All were members of the Assembly for 1737, and Andrew 
Wiggin was Speaker at the time. 

The "case" or " brief " of the complainants, which is signed 
by J. Browne and William Murray, — afterwards Lord Mans- 
field, — their London attorneys, makes no mention of this 
charge about granting away the remaining land of the Province. 1 
The inference is they attached very little importance to it, and 
thought it best not to discuss a fact which showed such incon- 
sistency on the part of the petitioners. But the London attorneys 
of Governor Belcher, J. Strange and R. Hollings, dwell upon the 
point at some length. 2 Their brief claims that the Respondent 
granted the land by advice of the Council, and this cannot be a 
grievance, unless it is a grievance that the land was not granted 
to the petitioners. The lands were no part of the disputed ter- 
ritory, and the Governor and Council had an undoubted right 
to grant them, and it was for the King's interest to do so. The 
grantees were personally unobjectionable men, save that they 
were great opposers of the settlement of the boundary line, 
which, the brief says, was only inserted, as it is presumed, to 
show that the grants ought to have been made to the peti- 
tioners, — as the zealous asserters of the Line. Besides, it no- 
where appears that the grantees were opposers"; and if they 
were that the Respondent did not know it, and if true it was 
no objection. It was applied for on the usual terms, and they 
appearing properly qualified, the Respondent would not have 
been justified in denying their request. There was no pretence 
that the complainants had asked for the grant, and they should 
1 N. H. State Papers, xix. 541. 2 lb. 552. 


not repine because their neighbors had got unappropriated land 
which they themselves had never applied for. 1 The charge did 
not cast the " Fairest Light on this Complaint.'' 

The land was granted under the Township name of Kings- 
wood, and the grant was dated October 20, 1737. 2 From this 
it seems that the Wiggin petition was drawn up about the time 
of its date. The grant included what is now the towns of Mid- 
dleton, New Durham and parts of the towns of Gilmanton, 
Wakefield and Wolfeborough. The territory lies between the 
southern part of Lake Winnipisaukee and the Maine border, 
Brookfield on the North, and what was then the northern limits 
of Rochester and Barrington on the South. The grantees num- 
bered forty-nine, but at their first meeting, Shadrack Walton, 
George Jaffrey, Jotham Odiorne, Jr., Henry Sherburne, Richard 
Waldron, Ephraim Dennett, Joshua Pierce, Joseph Sherburne, 
Ellis Huske, Theodore Atkinson and Andrew Belcher were ad- 
mitted grantees. All were then members of the Governor's 
Council save Andrew Belcher, who was a son of the Governor, 
and some of them were among his most active enemies. Of 
the original grantees none belonged to the Assembly for that 
year, but at least a dozen were either sons or near relatives of 
the members. 

The Governor's claim, that former occupants of his office 
had done the same thing, was correct. In 1722 Governor 
Shute granted the townships of Chester, Londonderry, Notting- 
ham and Barrington, and incorporated the town of Rochester; 
and in 1727 Lieutenant Governor Wentworth, acting Governor 
in the absence of Shute, had granted the townships of Epsom, 
Chichester, Barnstead, Canterbury, Gilmanton and Bow, all 
without protest from any one so far as appears. Of the seven 
signers to the Wiggin petition five had been among the grantees 
of one or another of six of these towns granted in 1722 and 1727. 
Wiggin himself had been one of the grantees of five, Samuel 
Smith of two, and George Walton, John Rindge and John Smith 
of one each. Richard Waldron, Secretary of the Council and 
Governor Belcher's fast friend, made a certificate probably for 
use in the controversy, that Lieutenant Governor Wentworth, 
on May 27, 1727, " Granted five Townships, and every Member 
of the House of Representatives at that time was made a Pro- 
1 N. H. State Papers, xix. 563. 2 lb. ix. 456. 


prietor in each of the said Townships, and that Andrew Wiggin 
Esq. was then one of the Representatives and one of the Grant- 
ees of Each of the said Townships." * 

In every case except Londonderry, which was given to the 
Scotch Irish, and Barrington, granted to four men of whom 
Lieutenant Governor Wentworth was one, five hundred acres 
had been set apart each to the Governor and Lieutenant Gov- ' 
ernor, and one lot to each of the Council. It would seem as 
though there was little ground for complaint on the part of the 
men behind this charge, that they had not got their share of 

In some of the grants made during the same period, 1722- 
1727, grantees of Kingswood had been included. The petition 
for the latter grant bears the names of prominent families of 
Portsmouth and the neighboring towns, or of those who were 
closely allied to them by ties of kindred and social or business 
relationships. The petitioners had surely no cause for objection 
on the ground that Kingswood had been given to unworthy 

This complaint against Governor Belcher was only one of the 
moves on the political chessboard to secure other and far more 
important results — viz., the settlement of the boundary ques- 
tion between the two States, and the separation of the two 
Provinces. The controversy had dragged along for forty years, 
New Hampshire earnestly seeking an adjustment of the ques- 
tion, and Massachusetts constantly delaying and thwarting the 
movement. The continual defeat of the project had bred strong 
and bitter feelings among the people of the smaller province, 
which feeling had steadily grown as time went on. Not unnatur- 
ally they had become jealous of the superior power and wealth 
of the older State, and were fearful that the annexation of the 
territory between the Merrimack and Connecticut rivers would 
result in the consolidation of their province with Massachusetts, 
and so end their political existence as a separate province. The 
Governor resided in Boston, was a native of Massachusetts, and 
was its Governor as well as theirs. They distrusted his actions 
and heavily discounted all his professions of fairness and good 
faith. What they wanted was a governor of their own and to 
be free from all political connection with their southern neigh- 
1 N. H. State Papers, xvni. 79. 


bor. While feeling the burdens of taxation, and parsimonious 
in their dealings with Governor Belcher over his salary, they 
believed, if they could obtain the region between the two 
rivers, that through its settlement the resources of the State 
would be so far increased that an independent Governor could 
be supported with less difficulty than under existing arrange- 
ments. There were many causes for irritation growing out of 
the unsettled controversy, one of which was the uncertainty of 
land titles near the disputed lines. This had given rise to liti- 
gation to such an extent as to become a serious burden, causing 
delay in the occupation and development of the territory, and 
proving a constant source of ill temper and vexation among the 

Another circumstance had augmented the irritation. Be- 
tween 1730 and the end of the year 1737, the Massachusetts 
Legislature, with the approval of Governor Belcher, who signed 
the acts, had granted twenty-five townships within the dis- 
puted area, besides giving away large tracts of land in un- 
granted territory. These were made to Massachusetts citizens 
upon favorable terms, and strenuous efforts were being con- 
stantly exerted to settle the grants. If these places were occu- 
pied by settlers from the older State, bound to Massachusetts 
by ties of land-title, birth or residence, and under the pro- 
tection of its laws, it must weigh with the King and Council in 
making up the final decision. In this shrewd policy New Hamp- 
shire saw the "fine Italian hand" of Governor Belcher, and 
charged it up in the account against him. In prosecuting the 
scheme to appropriate these lands, Massachusetts people as- 
sumed that the line of Jurisdiction would not affect their prop- 
erty and that possession and improvement would make a secure 
title. This same idea existed among the Governor's friends in 
New Hampshire, and seeing this large tract of ungranted ter- 
ritory in the northeast part of the province, asked for it and the 
Township of Kingswood was given them. 1 The land specu- 
lators, and they were as numerous in proportion to population 
in one province as in the other, saw on the one side a fruitful 
field for future exploitation removed, and on the other a large 
territory added for their operations, which increased the ten- 
sion between the contending parties. 

1 Belknap, History of New Hampshire (Boston, 1813), n. 99. 


The tone of the Petition is bitter, almost vindictive, and 
abounds in harsh epithets which detract from the dignity of 
statement usually found in such documents. The grounds and 
history of the controversy do not account for this feature of the 
petition, and there was much more behind it. There were di- 
visions and quarrels and quarrels within quarrels in which 
Governor Belcher was a party. Five of his eleven Councillors 
were personally hostile to him and seeking his overthrow. The 
Council and Assembly were at odds with each other. The 
Governor had become involved in a sharp controversy with the 
King's surveyor of the forests over the exploitation of timber 
reserved for the Navy. The intercourse between the Governor 
and Assembly had at times been acrimonious, and charges of 
disrespect, neglect and bad faith had passed back and forth 
between them; and between the Governor and his Lieutenant 
Governor, Dunbar, there was a bitter quarrel. There was the 
standing dispute about salary and the provision for and pay- 
ment thereof. The Governor even had his enemies in Massa- 
chusetts, raised up by his attitude upon the Land Bank ques- 
tion. This personal hostility was cordially reciprocated by the 
Governor. In his correspondence with his New Hampshire 
friends he states his opinions freely. Here are a few of his 
choice expressions about those who were trying to thwart him. 
In a letter dated April 20, 1734, to the Secretary of the Council 
of New Hampshire, Richard Waldron, he thus writes of his 
Council, " As to the pusillanimous Wretches [referring to certain 
members] from whom we want assistance — What shall we 
say or what shall we do? five have been lately admitted by 
your approbation, but except yourself, you say no man open'd 
his Jaws. When our friends have all the Places of Profit and 
Honour, and yet are useless, I again say, What shall we do? 

What made the old go out of Town instead of Being at his 

Duty." * He spoke of Shadrack Walton, acting President of 
the Council, in the same letter, as "a despicable mortal" and 
of Arthur Slade, a prominent man of the day, as "Old Slade." 
Lieutenant Governor Dunbar is always referred to in his cor- 
respondence under the epithet of "Sancho." He thus expresses 
himself about Ellis Huske, another of his Council: "I have a 

fine time of it That I must make old H a Collonial Treas- 

1 N. H. State Papers, iv. 872. 


urer and Clerk of the Court, and yet he must be such a poor, 

unthinking as that if a Governor does not take notice of a 

worthless Hound that chimes in with all that would cut his 
throat, the old Fool forsooth must be afronted." x 

No doubt these sentiments were cordially reciprocated, and 
they certainly show the depth and breadth of the love between 
the parties to the issue, and sufficiently explain the language of 
Wiggin's complaint. 

The Wiggin Petition was referred to the Privy Council, which, 
December 27, 1739, after reciting the charges of the complaint, 
reported that the 

Governor hath Acted with great Partiallity By proroguing the 
Assembly of New Hampshire from the 6th of July, 1737, to the 4th 
of August following being three days beyond the time appointed for 
Opening the Commission. In Disobedience to your Majesty's 
Order in Council which had been transmitted to him by the Lord 
Commissioners for Trade and Plantations and which was Proved 
to have been delivered to him in due time. And also by further 
proroguing the said Assembly from the 2nd of September 1737 to 
the 13th day of October following whereby the said Province of 
New Hampshire were deprived of the time intended by your Maj- 
esty's aforementioned Order in Council to be allowed them to Con- 
sider of the Determination of the said Commissioners and (if they 
found themselves aggrieved thereby) to prepare a proper and regu- 
lar appeal therefrom to your Majesty in Council, in Order to a final 
Determination of the matters in Dispute between the said Province 
and that of Massachusetts Bay, and thereby to frustrate the inten- 
tions of your Majesty's said Commission. 2 

The conclusions of the Council contain no allusion to the 
grant of the township of Kingswood. This report received the 
approval of the King, and though nothing further came of the 
petition, the royal indorsement of its findings marked the be- 
ginning of the end of the debate. 

The same year, however, John Thomlinson, the London 
Agent of New Hampshire, in behalf of its Assembly filed a 
Petition to the King and Council setting forth the same, along 
with other grievances in great detail, except that it makes no 
allusion to this grant of land, and concludes with a request that 
the Province "be immediately freed from being any longer 

1 N. H. State Papers, iv, 876. 2 Page 206, infra. 


under the most oppressive Government of said Jonathan Bel- 
cher, And may be put under the command of a separate Gov- 
ernour (and not under the same Governour as the Massachusetts 
Bay) and may have all such other Relief as to your Majesty's 
great Justice and Wisdom shall seem meet." * 

The next year (1740) Joseph Gulston, Contractor for sup- 
plying masts for the Royal Navy, Benning Wentworth of the 
Council, and Richard Chapman and John Thomlinson filed 
another petition asking for a separation of the Provinces. 
The grounds of the request are different from those set forth 
in the other petitions. It was presented after the decision of 
the King and Council upon the Boundary question, and alleges 
among other things that by the verdict the Province of New 
Hampshire had been largely extended and was amply able to 
support a government and provide for the defence of the prov- 
ince and the protection of trade, and prayed to be made an in- 
dependent Province. 2 

All these petitions were bitterly fought by Governor Belcher 
and his friends both in this country and England, and counter 
petitions, complaints and memorials were laid before the Council. 
But they did not avail; New Hampshire was separated from 
Massachusetts, Belcher was removed from the Governorship 
of the smaller Province, and the grant of the Township of 
Kingswood was revoked. 

Petition to the King. 3 
To the King's most Excellent Majesty in Council. 

We your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects the Representa- 
tives of your Majesty's Province of New Hampshire in New England, 
do prostrate ourselves at your Majesty's feet, humbly beseeching 
your Royal Majesty in Council to take under your wise Considera- 
tion the distressed and deplorable Condition of the said Province, 
now groaning under most unhappy Circumstances, thro' the arbi- 
trary and partial Administration of our present Governor, abetted 
by a Majority of the Council, Persons promoted to that Honour 
and Trust upon his Recommendation, devoted to his Interest, and 
subservient to his Directions, tho' never so unreasonable, and noto- 
riously detrimental to the Prosperity and Welfare of your Majesty's 

1 N. H. State Papers, v. 921-925. 2 lb. xix. 471. 

3 The original is in the Library of Congress, Washington, D. C. 


Province: This is evident, from the Non-concurring for five Years 
past the most wholsome Laws the House of Representatives could 
devise, from the frequent Dissolutions of the several Houses during 
that Time, and from the reproachful and opprobrious Speeches the 
several Dissolutions were attended with, sometimes from the Gov- 
ernor, at other times from the Council, calculated (as we apprehend) 
to create Divisions, Feuds and Animosities amongst your Majesty's 
good subjects, heretofore the Envy of their Neighbors for their 
mutual Love and Unanimity, and Strangers to intestine Jars, before 
Governor Belcher's Arrival amongst us. 

That these Grievances have not before now been represented to 
your Majesty in Council, was not owing to an Insensibility of the 
Hardships we sustained, (the contrary is evident from a Vote of the 
late House of Representatives, Nemine Contradicente, That Gov- 
ernor Belcher's Administration was a Grievance; and a Committee 
was accordingly appointed to remonstrate the same) but an Un- 
willingness to be troublesome to your Majesty, and some flattering 
Hopes of an amicable Accommodation among ourselves. But the 
surprizing Behaviour of his Excellency, and a Majority of the Council 
at our late Sessions, appointed by your Majesty's special Command 
to be held at Hampton, (for the more convenient attending upon the 
Commissioners constituted by your Majesty to settle the disputed 
Lines between this Province and that of the Massachusetts Bay) 
has frustrated all our Expectations, and affords us a melancholy 
Prospect of impending Ruin, if not timely prevented by your Maj- 
esty's Goodness and Authority, the most effectual Steps being taken 
by the Governor, and a Majority of the Council, to render your 
Majesty's gracious Purposes fruitless, (with respect to the settling 
the boundary Lines between the two Provinces) and this House 
odious and contemptible, which, in our Apprehension, is apparent 
from the following Considerations. 

We should trespass on your Majesty's Patience, were we to enu- 
merate the Oppressions and Hardships from time to time exercised 
by the Massachusetts Government on your Majesty's good Subjects 
of this Province, inhabiting several miles within the disputed Lines: 
This their Injustice most flagrantly appears from their own Demands 
exhibited to the Commissioners, where their Claims fall some Miles 
short of those Places over which they have usurped Jurisdiction. 
But we forbear Repetition, these Encroachments having already 
been laid before your Majesty in Council by our Agent; in Conse- 
quence of which (as the most speedy and effectual Method to relieve 
the Distressed) your Majesty in Council was most graciously pleased to 
constitute, under the Great Seal, certain Commissioners to make out 


the boundary Lines, the Heads of which Commission his Excellency 
[gave] to this House at their Sessions in April last. In Obedience to 
which, with Hearts full of Gratitude, we immediately resolved to 
contribute what in us lay to expedite that important Affair, by a 
punctual Compliance with all your Majesty's Instructions, and a 
suitable Preparation for the honourable Commissioners; when, to 
our great Surprise and Disappointment, (before any necessary Step 
could be taken in Obedience to your Majesty's Commission) we 
were prorogued to the 6th day of July, and again further prorogued 
to the 4th of August, and again, by Orders from the Governor at 
Boston, prorogued by the President of the Council to the 10th of 
the said Month; by which Prorogations the Governor's Design too 
plainly appears of frustrating your Majesty's gracious Intentions, 
and delivering us up a Prey to our Adversaries, his favoured Province 
of the Massachusetts Bay. We conceive nothing else could move 
him to deprive us of all Opportunities of making the necessary Prep- 
arations against the appointed Day, but a premeditated Design to 
embarass and perplex our Affairs; in order to which, upon his meeting 
us at Hampton, (ten Days after the Commissioners first meeting) 
he recommends the Choice of two publick Officers residing within 
the Province, on either of whom, or at whose Places of Abode any 
Notices, Summons's, or final judgement of the said Commissioners 
might be served or left, though knowing at the same time that the 
Committee appointed by the General Assembly to attend the said 
Commissioners, pursuant to your Majesty's Commission, and as 
was absolutely necessary to be done, had, on the first Day of the 
Commissioners, appointed such Officers, who were accordingly ac- 
cepted and recorded. This we think was evidently throwing Diffi- 
culties in our Way; the Design of which (we apprehend) must have 
been to possess the Commissioners with a Notion of the Illegality 
of accepting such Officers so appointed: The Consequence of which 
must have proved fatal to us, had it had its desired Effect; for thereby 
we should (as we conceive) have been excluded from the right of 
exhibiting our Claims, which, consistently with your Majesty's 
Commission, were to be preferred at the first Meeting of the Com- 
missioners, and the Commissioners laid under a Necessity of pro- 
ceeding ex parte, and granting the Massachusetts unreasonable 
Demands. Nor have the Governor and a Majority of the Council 
been less industrious, during the whole Sessions, in defeating all the 
prudent and well-advised Measures we could fall upon towards 
issuing speedily this important Affair; everything proposed by this 
House was disagreeable; all Votes non-concurred; no Money to be 
had towards defraying the Expences necessarily attending such an 


Affair, nor Agent appointed by Concurrence of both Houses, nor 
Money to prosecute before your Majesty in Council. These deplor- 
able Circumstances we are now reduced to; and where must we seek 
Succour in our Extremity, but from your most gracious Majesty? 
In Confidence of which, we throw ourselves at your Majesty's Feet, 
and beg leave to further assure your Majesty, that, as your Com- 
mission was received with universal Joy, so were all necessary Steps 
taken by this House to make it effectual, but unhappily defeated 
by the Governor and Council. We might mention many more 
Grievances; but fearing we have trespassed too much on your 
Majesty's Patience, beg leave only to mention, that immediately 
after the Commissioners had made up their Judgement, and before 
we could obtain a copy thereof, the Governor prorogued the General 
Court of this Province to the Day before the Commissioners had 
adjourned their Court, as their last Day to receive Appeals or Ex- 
ceptions from either Government that thought themselves aggrieved 
at their Judgement; so that we had only part of one Day to prepare 
our Appeal, which stripped us of the Benefit intended by the six 
Weeks Adjournment directed in your Majesty's Commission. This 
we look upon as a Hardship, especially knowing that the Massa- 
chusetts Court was kept sitting until they had prepared their Appeal, 
voted Money to carry it on, and Agents to pursue it. These things 
have been denied us, contrary to your Majesty's Intentions, signified 
by your Commission, and to the Peace and Welfare of this Province, 
and those Persons with whom your Majesty hath intrusted the 
Power of granting the unappropriated Land within this Province, 
and who have, since the Judgement of the Commissioners, granted 
the only Tract of Land unappropriated, and out of Controversy, 
to Persons, the most of whom were great Opposers of the Settlement 
of the Lines, and who never contributed one Penny toward the Charge 
that hath attended it. Innumerable Instances of this Nature induce 
us to supplicate your Majesty for Relief. We humbly beg you'd 
graciously be pleased to receive from our Agent, John Thomlinson, 
Esq; the Proofs of the several Matters herein alledged, and such 
further Information as may be necessary to set our melancholy 
Circumstances in a true Light; which your Majesty's good Subjects, 
the Inhabitants of this your Majesty's poor little distressed loyal 
Province, not doubting but, as your tender Regard reaches the most 
remote of your Subjects, we shall not be thought unworthy of your 
Royal Favour, and that you will grant us such speedy Relief as in 
your Royal Goodness shall seem meet: Which to the latest Posterity, 
will chearfully be acknowledged by the unfeigned Behaviour, and 
the most dutiful loyal Regards of, 


May it please your Majesty, Your Majesty's most Humble, Most 
Dutiful and Loyal Subjects, 

And. Wiggin, ' 
J. Rindge, 
Sam. Smith, 
John Smith, 
J. Odiorne, Jun. 
Tho. Packer, 
Geo. Walton, 

Committee of and in 
the Behalf of the 
House of Represen- 
tatives of the Govern- 
ment of New Hamp- 

Province of New Hampshire in New England in America, November 4, 1737. 

Report of the Privy Council. 1 

21 November, 1739. (Committee report. The petition of the 
representatives sets forth) 

That Jonathan Belcher, Esq., their present Governor hath been 
guilty of Arbitrary and partial proceedings in his Administration, 
abetted thereto by a Majority of the Council, consisting of Persons 
promoted to that Honour and Trust upon his Recommendation; 
In nonconcurring for five Years past the most wholesome Laws the 
House of Representatives could devise ; In causing frequent Dissolu- 
tions to be made of the several Houses during that time; and In 
making reproachfull and Opprobrious Speeches upon the said sev- 
eral Dissolutions. And further Setting forth amongst other things, 
that several Encroachments having been from time to time made 
by the Province of the Massachusets Bay upon the Lands belonging 
to the province of New Hampshire, the Petitioners were Obliged 
some Years since to lay the same Humbly before Your Majesty. 
Whereupon Your Majesty was graciously pleased to Constitute 
under the Great Seal certain Commissioners to make out the 
Boundary Lines, the Heads of which Commission the Governor com- 
municated to the House of Representatives at their Sessions in 
April 1737; in Obedience to which they immediately resolved to 
contribute what in them lay to expedite that important Affair, by 
a punctual Compliance with all your Majesty's Instructions and 
a Suitable preparation for the Commissioners. When to their great 
Surprize and Disappointment (before any necessary Step could be 
taken in Obedience to Your Majesty's Commission) they were pro- 
rogued to the 6th day of July, and again further prorogued to the 
4th of August, and again by Orders from the Governor at Boston 
prorogued by the President of the Council to the 10th of the said 
Month, by which Prorogations the Governor's design too plainly 

1 Acts of the Privy Council, Colonial, 111. 1720-1745, 594. 


appeared of frustrating Your Majesty's Gracious Intentions, and 
delivering them up a Prey to their adversarys the Province of the 
Massachusets Bay. The Petitioners conceive nothing else could 
move him to deprive them of all Opportunitys of making the neces- 
sary Preparations against the appointed day but a premeditated 
Design to embarass and perplex their Affairs; in Order to which upon 
the said Governor's meeting the House of Representatives at Hamp- 
ton (ten days after the Commissioners first Meeting) he recommended 
the Choice of two Publick Officers residing within the Province, on 
either of whom or at whose Places of Abode any Notices Summons's 
or final Judgment of the said Commissioners might be served or left; 
though knowing at the same time that the Committee appointed by 
the General Assembly to Attend the said Commissioners pursuant 
to Your Majesty's Commission, and as was absolutely necessary to 
be done, had on the first day of the Commissioners Meeting appointed 
such Officers, who were accordingly accepted and Recorded. This 
the Petitioners think was evidently throwing difficultys in their 
way, the design of which (they apprehend) must have been to possess 
the Commissioners with a notion of the Illegality of accepting such 
Officers so appointed, the Consequence of which must have proved 
fatal to New Hampshire had it had its desired effect; for thereby they 
should have been excluded from the Right of exhibiting their Claims 
which, consistently with Your Majesty's Commission, were to be 
preferred at the first Meeting of the Commissioners, and the Com- 
missioners laid under a necessity of proceeding ex parte and granting 
the Massachusets unreasonable Demands. Nor have the Governor 
and a Majority of the Council been less industrious during the whole 
Sessions in defeating all the prudent and well advised Measures the 
Representatives of New Hampshire could fall upon towards issuing 
Speedily this important Affair. Every thing proposed by the House 
of Representatives of New Hampshire was disagreeable, All Votes 
Nonconcurred, No Money to be had towards defraying the Expences 
necessarily Attending such an Affair, Nor Agent appointed by Con- 
currence of both Houses, Nor Money to prosecute before Your Maj- 
esty in Council. That all necessary Steps were taken by the House 
of Representatives of New Hampshire to make Your Majesty's 
Commission effectual, but unhappily defeated by the Governor and 
Council. That immediately after the Commissioners had made up 
their Judgment, and before the Petitioners could obtain a Copy 
thereof, the Governor prorogued the General Court of the said prov- 
ince of New Hampshire to the day before the Commissioners had 
adjourned their Court as their last day to receive Appeals or Excep- 
tions from either Government that thought themselves aggrieved 



at their Judgment, so that the Petitioners had only part of One day 
to prepare their Appeal, which Stripped the Petitioners of the benefit 
intended by the Six Weeks Adjournment directed in Your Majesty's 
Commission. This the Petitioners look upon as a hardship espe- 
cially knowing the Massachusets Court was kept sitting till they had 
prepared their Appeal, Voted Money to carry it on and Agents to 
pursue it. These things have been denied to New Hampshire, con- 
trary to Your Majestys Intentions Signified by Your Commission 
and to the Peace and Welfare of the said Province, and by those 
persons to whom Your Majesty hath intrusted the Power of granting 
the unappropriated Land within the said Province of New Hampshire, 
and who have since the Judgment of the said Commissioners granted 
the only Tract of unappropriated Land within the said Province 
and out of Controversy, to Persons the most of whom were great 
Opposers of the Settlement of the Lines, and who never contributed 
one penny towards the Charge that hath attended it. Innumerable 
instances of this Nature induce the Petitioners to Supplicate Your 
Majesty for Relief. (The Committee, after full hearing and examina- 
tion of evidence, agree to report), That it appears to their Lordships 
that the Governor hath Acted with great Partiallity By proroguing 
the Assembly of New Hampshire from the 6th of July, 1737, to the 
4th of August following, being three days beyond the time appointed 
for Opening the Commission, in Disobedience to Your Majesty's 
Order in Council which had been transmitted to him by the Lords 
Commissioners for Trade and Plantations and which was Proved to 
have been delivered to him in due time. And also by further pro- 
roguing the said Assembly from the 2d of September, 1737, to the 
13 th day of October following, whereby the said Province of New 
Hampshire were deprived of the time intended by Your Majesty's 
aforementioned Order in Council to be allowed them to Consider of 
the Determination of the said Commissioners and (if they found 
themselves aggrieved thereby) to prepare a proper and regular Ap- 
peal therefrom to Your Majesty in Council, in Order to a final De- 
termination of the matters in Dispute between the said Province 
and that of the Massachusets Bay, and thereby to frustrate the 
intention of Your Majesty's said Commission, (vi. 399-402.) (1739) 
George II. 

Col. W. R. LrvERMORE read a portion of a chapter in his 
volume, the " Story of the Civil War," about to be published, 
dealing with the second day of the battle of Gettysburg, in 
continuation of his paper read in December, 1910. 1 He 

1 Proceedings, xliv. 223. 


illustrated the position and movements of the opposing forces 
upon an elaborate map of the battlefield, and gave a detailed 
account of the part played by each brigade, corps and 

Mr. Sanborn presented a paper on 

Churchmen on the Pascataqua, i 6 50-1 690. 

There are points in the early history of Northern New Eng- 
land, in which the indefinite and much-disputed patents of 
Mason, Gorges and others were located, before any proper 
determination of latitude or longitude was made in that wilder- 
ness, which I have never seen fairly elucidated and presented 
as a whole, in the many books and papers published in the three 
States, Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire, to which 
those patents were ultimately confined. During their contin- 
uance as subjects of colonization and controversy, many im- 
portant changes were made in the religious and political con- 
stitution of Great Britain and her Colonies. The parties that 
failed to carry their point in these changes often ceased to have 
their cause continued in memory, whether it were good or bad, 
according to the good old rule of Vce Victis. It is not every 
lost cause that contrives to keep itself before tribunals of public 
opinion so persistently as have those of the Tories in our first 
Revolution, and of the Slaveholders in our second great Revo- 
lution, now frequently offered for justification or sophistry. 
I do not appear today as the advocate of that party, hostile 
to the New England Puritans, whose leaders, often supported 
by powerful forces in the mother country, sought to uphold 
here the doctrines of the Church of England and the absolutist 
and oligarchic principles of the Stuart family in Great Britain. 
But I wish their New England partisans in the seventeenth 
century, along the banks of the Pascataqua and the shores of 
Maine and Massachusetts, to have their case impartially con- 
sidered, and the character of the men themselves more clearly 
represented, than could be done during the violent and bloody 
struggles of that and the succeeding century. So far as I know, 
few of my ancestors were of this defeated party, while I am 
genealogically connected with several of the opposition to their 
measures; one of whom suffered more than three years' impris- 


onment in the Tower of London, for a demonstration in arms 
of his opposition. I am therefore as impartial in the case as 
could reasonably be expected in the present age, so much given 
to the worship of ancestors. 

The Puritans, when colonizing Massachusetts and Connec- 
ticut, looked upon this region as a refuge for their religious and 
political party, should it be defeated in Great Britain; and did 
in fact use it as such after the Restoration of the Stuarts, for 
a few decades. The aristocratic party in Church and State, 
on the contrary, naturally wished to establish here their system 
of a State Church, of lands held in large estates, and of titles 
of honor, rising in rank from the simple Knight and Baronet to 
the higher degrees of Baron, Earl, Marquis, Duke, and even 
Prince. Had Charles II succeeded in his scheme of uniting 
Maine and New Hampshire in one province, under the control 
of his bastard son, the Duke of Monmouth, he would probably 
have conferred on so large a landlord the rank of "Prince." 
Charles's brother, the Duke of York, did for a time exercise 
seigniorial rights over the Province of New York and the Eliza- 
beth Islands in Buzzard's Bay, whence that jurisdiction, 
when it became a part of Massachusetts, retained its name of 
"The Duke's County." Care was taken in the unrealized 
Charter granted by Charles I in 1635 to Captain John Mason 
and his heirs, but which never " passed the seals," that the infe- 
rior titles could be bestowed by the ruler of the proposed County 
Palatine, or by the Governor-general of all New England; — 
the reason assigned being "lest the way to honor and renown 
might seem difficult and hard to find in so remote and far dis- 
tant a country." Mason and his heirs were to have power, 
also, to create villages into boroughs, and boroughs into cities; 
and to hold 

all the advowsons and patronages of churches whatsoever, to 
be erected within the said tracts; with license and ability there to 
build and found churches, chapels and oratories, and to cause the 
same to be dedicated or consecrated according to the ecclesiasti- 
cal laws of England . . . And we do declare and ordain that 
the said Province of New Hampshire shall be immediately sub- 
ject to our Crown of England, and dependent upon the same 
forever. 1 

1 Sanborn, History of New Hampshire, 13, 15. 

ign.J CHURCHMEN ON THE PASCATAQUA, 1650-1690. 213 

Although this scheme never took effect, and though John 
Mason soon died, and his partner, Sir F. Gorges, was never able, 
after 1635, to follow up his opportunities in New England, the 
wills of these grantees provided for church glebes, for submission 
to English Bishops, and for the holding of land in enormous 
estates, with ground-rent for purchasers, and tenant-service 
for such as lived on the estate without purchase. 

Captain John Mason himself, a vigorous and wealthy person, 
expected to double and treble his wealth by disposing of his 
early grants of New England territory, which had been given 
him to satisfy debts that James I had incurred by employing 
Mason in the naval service around Scotland. Charles I further 
paid him by giving him the governorship of Portsmouth Castle, 
which commanded the important naval station and channel 
town of Portsmouth; and it was at Mason's house there that 
Buckingham, the unprincipled favorite of James and Charles, 
was assassinated in August, 1628. Seven years later, Mason, 
now appointed Vice-Admiral of New England, was coming 
over to look after his lands and his Portsmouth colony, and to 
keep the Puritans in order. But his ship met with an accident, 
and he died himself, before he could set sail. He left his Ameri- 
can lands to his grandson, Robert Tufton, who was to take the 
name of Mason, and come over here to look after the property. 
Sir Ferdinando Gorges had already sent over a kinsman to take 
charge of his Maine property, which was to have a fine manor 
or capital town, near Agamenticus, called Gorgeana. The 
Revolution of 1640 intervened (called by Clarendon "the Great 
Rebellion"); Sir Ferdinando lost his ready money, upholding 
the King's cause, and soon died himself. The Mason property 
suffered in the same period, and it was under the government 
of Oliver Cromwell, in 1651, that Mrs. Mason, the widow of 
John and grandmother of Robert, sent a kinsman, Joseph Mason, 
to Portsmouth and Boston, to revive the family interests in 
New England. He made little headway, and it was not till 
the Restoration of the Stuarts under Charles II that Robert 
Mason saw a way to recover and profit by his inherited estate 
in New Hampshire. By that time (1659-60) Massachusetts 
had full possession of Maine and New Hampshire, as parts of 
her jurisdiction, and had no inclination to restore Mason or 
the Gorges family to their charter privileges. Accordingly the 


restored king was urged, and consented, to appoint, in 1664, 
a royal commission, to hear and pass upon the complaints of 
colonists as to the misgovernment to which they were subjected 
by the Puritans of Massachusetts. These commissioners, who 
were Maverick, a former planter near Boston, and Nicolls, 
Carr and Cartwright, official persons in other Colonies, came 
over in 1665. They found here, or brought with them, either 
at once or in their train, several active promoters of the cause 
of Mason, Gorges and their heirs, — of whom the chief were, 
named alphabetically, though not in the order of coming over, 
Colonel John Archdale, Captain and Dr. Walter Barefoote, Cap- 
tain Francis Champernowne, Dr. Henry Greenland, Robert 
Mason, Esq. and Nicholas Shapleigh; who for the next twenty- 
five years, along with Edward Randolph, a distant cousin of 
Mason, continued to give trouble to the Massachusetts and 
New Hampshire Puritans, until the last of the seven ceased, 
either by death or departure, to contest the Massachusetts 
right to govern the three provinces, now constituting Maine, 
New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Of these persons and their 
acts and characters, the following is a historical summary. 

I. Col. John Archdale. He was a country gentleman, whose 
sister had married one of the Gorges family. Born about 1640, 
he came over to Pascataqua in 1664, to look after the possessions 
and claims of his sister's kinsmen in Maine. He soon bought 
land in Kittery and elsewhere, and seems to have resided in 
that neighborhood, perhaps with occasional visits to England 
and the West Indies, until he sold his Maine property, and be- 
came one of the proprietors of South Carolina, about 1680. 
He held property there in right of his son and in his own right, 
and late in the seventeenth century he was made Governor of 
South Carolina, to end the quarrels among the factious people 
settled there, as he successfully did. At some time before 1680 
he became a Quaker, as Major Shapleigh did, and was one of 
those who gravely resented the persecution of the Quakers by 
Massachusetts. He sided with Barefoote, Champernowne and 
Randolph, in their efforts to throw off the Puritan domination 
in the Pascataqua region, but took no active part therein; being, 
apparently, a peaceable, judicious person, of learning and 
property, who took the part of good government wherever 
he dwelt. Originally a Churchman, he joined the Dissenters as 

191 1.] CHURCHMEN ON THE PASCATAQUA, 1650-1690. 215 

a Quaker, and stoutly maintained their cause in Carolina 
against the factious Anglicans, who there refused to the Dis- 
senters all civil office, and made trouble in various ways. He 
outlived all his Pascataqua associates, and died in England 
about 1710. 1 

II. Dr. Walter Barefoote. This notable personage, a real 
thorn in the flesh to the Puritans of Ipswich, Dover, Portsmouth 
and Boston Bay, would seem to have been the grandson of 
a Puritan minister of some note in England, and to have lived 
either in London (where his father, John, was a merchant), or 
in the county of Essex near London, before coming over to 
Kittery about 1656-57. He was a surgeon (" chirurgeon ") by 
profession, a captain by title, and may have held that rank in 
Cromwell 's navy, or else served as surgeon there. He had ready 
money on his first appearance in the Maine records, having 
bought for cash the pay-certificates of seamen in the navy (at 
Kittery), and soon after was a buyer of land in York County. 2 

He was the scion of a mercantile family in London, the head 
of which for more than a century held the ancient manor of 
Lambourn on the Roding River in Essex; was a free liver and 
jovial, who soon established himself as a physician at Dover, 
near his brother-in-law, Thomas Wiggin, Jr., who had married 

1 Much light has been thrown on the career of John Archdale by recent publi- 
cations in South Carolina and in England. He published pamphlets in his later 
English life, describing the troubled years of the Carolinas while he was a pro- 
prietor there; and was aided in this paper controversy by the novelist Defoe, 
himself a Dissenter, who introduced elements of fiction into his writings of every 
sort. Dr. Rufus Jones, of Haverford College, Philadelphia, has made much men- 
tion of Archdale in his excellent volume, The Quakers in the American Colonies, 
in which he shows him as "the chief gentleman of Chipping Wycombe" when at 
home, but active also in Carolina affairs for some twenty-five years. It is worth 
mentioning that several Pascataqua families, connected with Champernowne by 
his marriage with the widow of Robert Cutt, — the Elliotts, Scrivenses, etc., 
migrated to South Carolina, along with Mrs. Champernowne, after the Captain's 
death and burial in the spring of 1687. By his will, in 1686, when he was seventy- 
two years old, Champernowne made his wife's grandson, C. Elliott, his heir, giving 
to him "all the lands of right belonging unto me, or that may belong unto me 
either in Old England or in New England, not by me already disposed of," show- 
ing that he still had property and expectations in his native Devonshire. 

2 The date of Barefoote's birth is not known, but it must have been as early 
as 1630. From 1657 to his death in 1688, he was the most litigating and scandal- 
raising personage connected with the Pascataqua region, whether as doctor, 
captain, prisoner and prison-keeper, deputy governor, land speculator or chief 
justice. His education was good, he wrote a good hand, and was fond of signing 
his unusual name — otherwise Barford in England — with a flourish of the pen. 


Sarah Barefoote, Walter's sister. They were Anglicans, and 
friends of Champernowne and Randolph, the former going bail 
for Barefoote in one of his frequent arrests for debt, assault 
or other offence. He was accused by the Puritans of having 
left a wife in London when he migrated, to which a certain 
Davis testified, in 1676 (when Massachusetts wished to make 
out a case against Barefoote), as follows: 

In the year 1662, being in England, there came to my lodging a 
woman who said she was the wife of one Walter Barefoot in New 
England: . . . said she was in a very low condition and desired 
me to get him to send her some maintenance, for she had two chil- 
dren to maintain, and had no subsistence for them. Further, there 
came an ancient man to me, who said Walter Barefoot was a very 
knave, in that, desiring him to be security for him to a merchant 
in Mark Lane, for linens he had of him, Barefoot did never send pay 
for the same; so that the old man was forced to lie in the King's 
Bench, a prisoner, as he said. These things I acquainted Mr. Bare- 
foot with, when I came over; who owned the linens he had taken up. 

In his will of 1688 Barefoote made no mention of any. wife 
and children, though he left a large estate, mainly to his sister, 
Mrs. Wiggin. He is probably buried among the Wiggins, at 
Sandy Point in Stratham, having no other near relatives in 
America. He died at Great Island (New Castle) in his own 
house, the island where he had many adventures, guarding 
prisoners of the Province, and being a prisoner there himself, 
as well as at Hampton and Dover, in some of his many lawsuits 
and affrays. He was from the first a landholder, as well as a 
practising physician of note ; bought land of Colonel Archdale 
and of Captain Champernowne, leased land of Mason, bought 
saw-mills of Harlakenden Symonds, the brother-in-law of John 
Winthrop the younger, and was mixed up in suits with many of 
the prominent planters of New Hampshire, Maine and Massa- 
chusetts. In a dispute of 1674, while Barefoote was still a 
practising physician at Dover, he became involved with the 
Hiltons of Exeter, and was carried away to the Hampton jail, 
after a scene in the Dover jail which is depicted with much 
liveliness in the depositions on record at Concord, New Hamp- 
shire. The Hampton constable, Christopher Palmer, acting for 
the Hiltons, went with an arresting posse to Dr. Barefoote's 
house in Dover, and persuaded him to go along with them to the 

191 1.] CHURCHMEN ON THE PASCATAQUA, 1650-1690. 21 7 

jail, and release upon bail two Hiltons there imprisoned, under 
Jeremiah Tibbetts, the jailer. With great good-humor the 
Doctor went along, and took a gallon of perry, to celebrate the 
armistice in the lawsuit by treating the company. Young 
Tibbetts, the jailer's son, then testified: 

They brought with them a runlet of perry, which Capt. Barefoote 
brought to drink with them, as he said; and so long as it lasted they 
were very merry. But presently, after it was ended, there was a 
great noise, — Captain B. lying on the ground, saying, he would 
not go, for he was in a prison already, where he would abide; but 
said Christopher Palmer answered, he was his prisoner, pulling him 
very rough and rudely. 

Palmer himself described the scene by saying that when he 
arrested Barefoote upon a proper warrant, "he laid himself 
along the floor at Jeremiah Tibbetts' house, more like a pig than 
a captain.'' 1 Pig or captain, Palmer put him in a boat, and as 
he sailed down the stream and came near Captain Champer- 
nowne's great farm of " Greenland " on the Great Bay, Champer- 
nowne brought the party to, and offered bail for his friend, 
which Palmer refused ; and then carried him across the country 
to Hampton jail, whence Barefoote wrote an indignant protest 
to the Massachusetts authorities, quoting their own statutes 
to them and demanding his release. He was taken to Hampton, 
September 21, 1674, and, as John Souter, the Hampton jailer, 
testified: "I saw him lockt up into the Hampton prison of 
Norfolk County; and Christopher Palmer bade me go with 
them and lock the said Barefoote into the common gole, and 
bade me have a care of him, lest he should give me the slip." 

A queer complication of this affair is that, in the May preced- 
ing, Dr. Barefoote had sued Palmer, in the same Hampton 
court, for "several physical and chirurgical medicines and 
visits, to the value of six pounds." In a previous controversy 
with the Hiltons, the old lady, Mrs. Katharine Hilton (born 
Shapleigh) swore that in Exeter (1670) "Captain Barefoote 
got a pistol or a sword or rapier, and drove the marshal away." 
Such affairs had early brought him into collision with the 
Massachusetts Puritans, who in 1671-73 tried to send him back 
to England. In 1671 the magistrates fined Barefoote 20 shil- 
lings "for his profaneness and horrid oaths," and went on to 



decree thus: "It appearing that he left a wife and two children 
in England, we do sentence him to return to England by the 
first ship, and that he shall henceforth be debarred to practise 
chirurgery or physic in any part of this jurisdiction." 

To this sentence Dr. Barefoote paid no regard, but continued 
to practise and send in bills, which were paid. The wonder is, 
that when they had him in prison in 1674, they did not under- 
take to enforce their own decree. But he seems to have been a 
chartered libertine, who could get into scrapes of all kinds with- 
out being seriously discredited by them. In the year 1678 the 
selectmen of Portsmouth, where Barefoote's political foes were 
in full control, and where Barefoote was then a citizen, made a 
singular agreement with him for the cure of one Richard Harvey 
who had lately broken his leg, with this condition : 

If said Barefoote make a perfect cure, providing and finding all 
means at his own cost, except rum for steeps, which the Town is to 
find, and if he shall perfect the cure, he is to have for the same 
20 pounds, all in money or merchantable white oak pipe-staves, 
at £3. 1 os. per thousand; and if in case he performs not a perfect 
cure, he agrees to have nothing for his pains, more than the 20 
shillings in money already paid him for what he has done for him 
this day. 

It was a case of first aid to the injured, and indicates that 
Barefoote had reputation as a good surgeon, although so 
litigious and so ready to draw sword or pistol, and to swear 
great oaths, like other captains. His recalcitrancy against the 
persecuting Puritans, one of whom was his Dover neighbor, 
Major Waldron, a cruel old Indian trader and Indian fighter, 
first showed itself in 1662, when, by tradition (for I have found 
no written record of it), he interfered in Salisbury to have Major 
Pike, a magistrate of another county, discharge the three 
Quaker women, whom Waldron had sentenced to be whipped 
at the cart's tail in every town from Dover to the Rhode Island 
line. Such was the intent of his barbarous order; but Dr. 
Barefoote, by tradition, followed or met this lamentable pro- 
cession in Salisbury, and there, with the connivance of Major 
Pike, took the women from the constable of Salisbury, under 
pretence of delivering them to the Newbury constable, and in 
Newbury, with the aid of another physician, Dr. Henry Green- 
land, bound up their wounds and set them free. About the 


same time Waldron (December, 1662) implicated another of 
my list of Churchmen, Major Nicholas Shapleigh, living in 
what is now Eliot, with the Quakers, writing thus: 

Major Shapleigh shelters all the Quakers that come into our 
parts, and followeth them where they meet. Which is not only a 
disturber upon that side [of the Pascataqua] but also on our side, 
where is but the river between. And so they come into our town, 
and presently they are gone over the river; and so his house is a 
harbor for them. And some say he is dictated by the little crooked 
Quaker [Edward Wharton]. Our town will be so disturbed with 
the Quakers and others that we shall hardly be at peace. 

These " others" were the members of the Anglican Church, 
who kept insisting, under the restored Stuarts, that they were 
deprived of the rites of their religion and the use of the Book 
of Common Prayer. It can hardly be supposed that Barefoote 
and Greenland suffered greatly from lack of the Anglican ordi- 
nances; but others probably did. At any rate, a considerable 
number of the residents on both sides of the river united in 
a petition that they might have the use of the Prayer Book 
and other ordinances of the English Church. Moreover, in 
1664-65, when Charles II sent over his first royal Commission, 
many of these residents signed a petition to Carr, Cartwright 
and Maverick, alleging that: 

Your petitioners for several years last past have been kept under 
the Government of the Massachusetts by an usurped power whose 
laws are derogatory to the laws of England; under which power 
five or six of the richest men of this parish [Portsmouth] have ruled, 
swayed and ordered all offices, both civil and military, at their 
pleasures. . . . And at the election of such officers the aforesaid 
party, or the greatest part of them, have always kept themselves 
in offices for the managing of the gifts of lands and settling them; 
whereby they have engrossed the greatest part of the lands, within 
the precincts and limits of this plantation, into their own hands. 
. . . The parties we petition against are Joshua Moodey, Minister; 
Richard Cutt, John Cutt, Elias Stileman, Nathaniel Fryer, Brian 
Pendleton, Merchants. 

Barefoote^did not sign this petition, being then a citizen of 
Dover; but he took the same view of the situation, and there 
was too much reason for it. He was himself accused, a few 


years later, of getting unjust possession of some 6,000 acres in 
New Hampshire, which one Captain Littlebury, in the North 
of England, alleged as belonging to himself, to cover an advance 
of three hundred pounds sterling to Mason and his associates 
in colonizing New Hampshire: 

as an adventure there; for which in 1663 the survivors, Gardner 
and Eyres, had agreed to give him a fourth part of their property, 
— his promised share being 6,000 acres; but now he hath been 
deluded 3 years, to his great hindrance and damage, by Capt. 
Champernowne, Major Shapleigh, Dr. Barefoot, and other grand 
incendiaries to the present government. 

Littlebury meant the government by Massachusetts, by which 
he was probably incited to make this claim, never heard of 
afterward, I think. He added, this Holy Island Captain, as 
an aggravation of his conduct, that " Shapleigh hath lately made 
leases of lands for 1,000 years, to Mr. Hilton of Exeter, Dr. 
Barefoote and others." 

This introduces into political and religious controversy the 
celebrated Masonian claim to the whole of New Hampshire 
and parts of Maine and Massachusetts; which kept the courts 
of New England busy for a century and a half, until it was 
finally settled, soon after the Revolution, by a compromise with 
the State government of New Hampshire. Shapleigh, in mak- 
ing leases with ground-rent, was acting as the agent of Robert 
Mason in England; and by accepting his leases, Hilton and 
Barefoote placed themselves on the side of the English system 
of land tenure, with primogeniture and Episcopal church gov- 
ernment, against which the Puritans were struggling. From 
that time forward — say 1666 — Barefoote was a sturdy and 
quarrelsome supporter of the Stuart policy. 

Upon his arrest by Palmer of Hampton, Barefoote, in his 
long protest, quoted the following passage from the printed 
Body of Liberties of the Bay Colony: 

"Forasmuch as the free fruition of such Liberties, Immunities 
and Privileges as humanity, civility and Christianity call for, as due 
to every man in his place and proportion, without impeachment 
and infringement, hath ever been, and ever will be, the tranquility 
and stability of churches and Commonwealth; and the denial or 
deprival thereof, the disturbance if not ruin of both, — 

igil.J CHURCHMEN ON THE PASCATAQUA, 1650-1690. 221 

"It is therefore ordered by this Court, and the authority thereof, 
that no man's life shall be taken away, no man's honor or good 
name shall be stained, no man's person shall be arrested, restrained, 
banished, dismembered, nor any way punished; no man shall be 
deprived of his wife or children, no man's goods or estate shall be 
taken away from him, nor any way indamaged, under color of law, 
or countenance of authority, except it be by virtue or equity of 
some express law." 

Consider [Barefoote goes on] whether a deputy named Christo- 
pher Palmer have not broken every tittle of this wholesome and 
express law. He cannot plead ignorance of the law, for it is well 
known that he hath been and is a known attorney and a malicious 
one: for in this very case, his malice — not regarding God nor the 
word of God, nor the authority who made these express bounds 
and laws, — he endeavored all in him lay to take away not only my 
honor or credit, but struck at my life, — if he could a' prevailed 
with the prison-keeper of Hampton, to a' kept me in the close 
dungeon, far remote from any house, — and said prison-keeper 
not able or willing to give me bread or anything to support life. 

Nextly I shall instance the subtlety of this Deputy, — coming 
to my habitation, pleading friendship; so I entertained him as a 
friend with the best in the house. Then he invited me to go see 
Sam. and Charles Hilton in the prison, where they were prisoners; 
and I very willingly went with him to give them a visit, and carried 
along a two-gallon runlet of Perry. And when we were come to 
the prison-keeper's house, where the said Sam. and Charles Hilton 
were prisoners, I treated them civilly, and likewise they spoke 
civilly and courteously to me; and this Deputy still pretended 
great love to me till the Perry was all drank out, and then suddenly 
said Deputy claps hold on me, as if he meant violence to my person. 
I, being not willing to resist, but rather to expose my life than 
give occasion of offence to authority, did submit to his will, — he 
declaring he arrested me in an action of Sam. Hilton. Said Hilton 
being then by [present], did declare he never did give order to him 
for any such thing, nor did not know of it; and showed his dislike 
of what was done by said Deputy. 

This meek submission of Barefoote to constituted authority 
contrasts vividly with his previous conduct in 1670-71, 
towards an honest Dogberry of a constable in Portsmouth, 
Henry Dering, who tried to arrest and imprison him upon an 
action of attachment brought by Abraham Corbett, for two 
suits, one for £1000 and the other for £150, and declined 


to take bail for either, in fear of being swindled by Barefoote, 
who did not inspire confidence by his promises. With tire- 
some prolixity Dering tells the story of one eventful night 
on Great Island, while yet Barefoote lived in Dover, and only 
came down occasionally to the Piraeus of old Portsmouth, 
which New Castle then was. But the upshot of it was thrilling. 
After an attempt to escape in a canoe, with the help of the 
aforesaid Charles Hilton, and while Dering mistrusted his 

the more by reason of his banishment out of the Jurisdiction, 
and his also telling me that he must be gone, and would ere long, 
but would return and answer that action; hearing that said Bare- 
foote was ordered by the General Court to depart the Jurisdiction 
by a certain time, on the penalty of £20, and also not to practise 
physic under a fine of £100; and he having forfeited both. 

Therefore Dering resolved to put Barefoote in prison; and 
was leading him along the island road for that purpose, when his 
posse was assaulted by Charles Hilton and his crew, trying to 
rescue Barefoote; who, grasping Dering by the neck-band, 
threw himself backward with so much force as almost to strangle 
Dering, who thus goes on: 

And when said Swett had pulled Barefoot from me, I went to 
take hold of his shoulder again; and he going backward I missed 
my hold; and his band coming in the way of my closing, my hands 
took hold of it, and he going from me, it tore. Whereupon he was 
very angry, and began to come towards me, and to lay hands on 
me. And I, seeing him ketch at my neckcloth, which was twice 
about my neck, I went backward to shun that danger. But he 
making use of that advantage (I also having a candle and lanthorn 
in one of my hands) followed me to take hold of my neckcloth; but 
I went backward till Charles Hilton came behind me and kept me 
up to Barefoote. And then said B. took hold of my neckcloth, and 
going from me that he might have the better advantage to pull 
and choke me, I bid him let go, and requested Hilton to loose his 
hands from my neckcloth. But neither would he let go, nor Hilton 
cause him; and immediately either Hilton or George Swett struck 
the lanthorn out of my hand, with such a force that, although it 
was a new one scarcely used before, it broke, — I holding one piece 
in my hand and put it in my pocket, and showed it to the people 
after help came. 


So when the light was out, I had more hands about me than 
Barefoot's, and I received a blow on the side of my head, so that it 
was swelled from the crown to my ear, — and very sore it was — 
and a great portion of the hair was pulled off. And how it came to 
pass I know not, for I was in a great measure deprived of my senses 
and understanding by reason of my being almost choked by Bare- 
foot, with my neckcloth. But I presume it was this, — that B. 
perceiving that he, standing, could not quite choke me, fell down 
with his back on the ground, and up with one of his feet, and plac- 
ing it against my breast, he, the said Barefoot, did with his hands 
pull my neckcloth, and thrust me away with his foot, so that he had 
almost made an end with me. I mean that he had almost killed 
me, whereby he might attain his purpose of escape from under the 
two said arrests. And when I perceived that Charles Hilton stood 
close by me, and would not help me; neither Barefoot let go, nor 
ease his force that he used to choke me, and that my life was even 
almost spent, — the Lord put it into my thoughts that, unless I 
could cry " Murder," I was there like to perish, — for indeed then 
my life required haste, — I bent myself down and pulled the said 
Barefoot's arms toward me. Whereby I got a little ease, and but a 
little; for, as I remember, in straining to get my wind out of my 
throat, the blood gushed out of my nose. 

Yet this nose-bleeding Dogberry not only saved his own life, 
but took Barefoote away as his prisoner, by the help that came 
to him upon his outcry. All this Dering deposed before Elias 
Stileman, a kinsman of the Cutts, and one of the magnates of 
Portsmouth, in a Court of Associates held there, January 1, 
1673. We shall hear more of "said Barefoote" later on. 

III. Capt. Francis Champernowne. Earlier, and still more 
pronounced, was the support given by Champernowne, into 
whose ancient Norman family both Sir Humphrey Gilbert and 
Sir Walter Ralegh had married in the sixteenth century. They 
were all Devonshire people, and Gawen Champernowne, a 
cousin of Ralegh, was the grandfather of Francis, who was 
therefore a third cousin of Ralegh; the younger son of a titled 
family, who came to New England hoping to begin a titled 
family here. For, under the draft of a charter for Mason's 
Colony, made in 1635, but never in force, Capt. John Mason 
was to be a Count Palatine in New England, after the pattern 
of the Bishop of Durham in England. 1 As such (as already 

1 See p. 212, supra. 


quoted) Mason was to have this imperfect charter (which bears 
the marks of Laud's contriving brain and the grasping despot- 
ism of Charles I), had it gone into full effect, and been followed 
up by a similar charter for Gorges in Maine, would have de- 
veloped a landed and titled aristocracy, a church with tithes 
and rents, endowed schools dependent on the clergy, and the 
whole glittering parade of Church and State, which was the 
ambition and the unfulfilled dream of Charles, of Buckingham, 
of Wentworth and of Laud. 1 

1 In the copious Memoir of Francis Champernowne by C. W. Tuttle, it is 
shown that his grandfather, Gawen Champernowne, married to the daughter 
of that Count Montgomery who had the misfortune to give the king of France, 
Henry II, a mortal wound in a tournament, was first cousin of Ralegh, and 
served with him in the religious wars of France. Arthur Champernowne, father 
of Francis, was Ralegh's second cousin, and Francis himself, third cousin of 
Ralegh and his half-brother Gilbert, became, by Sir Ferdinando Gorges' second 
marriage, a nephew of that colonizer and grantee of Maine. When Francis was 
twenty-two years old, his father, Arthur, received from his brother-in-law, 
Gorges, grants of a thousand acres of land on or near Champernowne's Island 
in Maine. The following year, 1637, Francis came over (probably in company 
with young Lord Ley, with whom he afterward sailed as a naval captain in the 
fleet of Charles I), and took possession of his father's grant, half of which after- 
ward became the property of Walter Barefoote. His own estate, for a few years 
after, was a tract of 400 acres on the Great Bay, which he called Greenland, 
long within the limits of Portsmouth; and he seems to have been residing there 
in October, 1640, when he was one of the signers of a "combination" for main- 
taining order and government, before New Hampshire came under the control 
of Massachusetts. After 1641 he disappears from the Pascataqua region for six 
or seven years, during which he probably served as captain under the command 
of the third Lord Ley who had become Earl of Marlborough, by the death of his 
grandfather, who was Milton's 

Good Earl, once President 
Of England's Council and her Treasury, 
Who lived in both, unstained with gold or fee, 
And left them both, more in himself content; 
Till sad the breaking of that Parliament 
Broke him, as that dishonest victory 
At Chaeronea, fatal to liberty, 
Killed with report that old man eloquent. 

The young earl seems not to have been a Puritan, like his grandfather and 
aunt, the Lady Margaret, but sided with the king against the Parliament. Cham- 
pernowne, though eight or ten years older than Marlborough, served under him, 
and when the king's cause became hopeless, Champernowne returned to Green- 
land about 1648; sold half of his father's island to a shipmaster named White, 
but the bargain fell through, and Francis then retired for a few years to Barba- 
does, still retaining his citizenship in Portsmouth, where the town granted him 
375 acres as a new farm, near his older one of Greenland, where he continued to 
live until about 1660. He then removed to the island named for him, and was 

I9ii.] CHURCHMEN ON THE PASCATAQUA, 1650-1690. 225 

Champernowne had come over to Portsmouth with wealth 
enough to buy large tracts on both sides of the river. His 
farm, Greenland, on the Bay above Portsmouth, afterwards 
furnished a name for the parish and town so designated. His 
estate in Kittery included the island since known by the name 
of Cutts, and he is commemorated in the name of the hotel that 
now stands in Kittery by the waterside opposite New Castle. 
Though twice married, he left no surviving sons; his widow 
migrated to South Carolina, where he might have been more at 
home than among the yeomanry and merchants of the Pascata- 
qua. He left his romantic name to his region, and the reputa- 
tion of a genial, good citizen, to whom no scandals attached. 
He was technically and habitually a gentleman, void of the 
unscrupulous ambition that brought his distinguished cousin 
Ralegh to grief and to the scaffold. 

IV. Dr. Henry Greenland. A very unlike person was Bare- 
foote's friend and professional brother, Dr. Greenland. Like 
him, Greenland appears descended from a Puritan household, 
rather hard to identify, in spite of its unusual name. The two 
chirurgeons were friends in England; and Greenland, already 
married there, came over at a suggestion from Barefoote. 
Like Dr. Bernard Randolph of Oxford, father of Edward and 
Bernard Randolph, they were skilful physicians in their spe- 
cialty; and, after his banishment to New Jersey, Greenland 
rose into social and political station. But in New England he 

one of a commission named by young Ferdinando Gorges, lord-proprietor of 
Maine, to control and govern that Province in his name (May 23, 1661). His 
associates were Churchmen like himself, — Henry Jocelyn, son of Sir Thomas, 
Robert Jordan a clergyman, and Nicholas Shapleigh, son of Alexander, whose 
sister had married one of the Hiltons, early colonists at Exeter. This authority 
in 1664 was reinforced by a royal order from Charles II, — at which date (No- 
vember 5, 1664), John Archdale, Edward Rish worth, Francis Raynes and Thomas 
Withers had been added to the commission, and Shapleigh had ceased to act, but 
remained of the Mason and Gorges party, to which had been added, since 1657, 
Dr. Barefoote. Now followed a turbulent period of controversy between the 
Massachusetts Puritans and the Church and Stuart interest in Maine and New 
Hampshire, in which Champernowne and his friends were alternately in control 
and under indictment. He and ten of his friends were made justices of the peace 
by the king's commissioners, Carr, Cartwright and Maverick, and controlled 
affairs (mainly) from June, 1665, to July, 1668, when Massachusetts by force 
re-established its jurisdiction over Maine, — the Churchmen always protesting, 
and standing by each other. Meantime Charles II had formed a plan in his 
indolent mind for uniting the two colonies into a principality for James Scott, 
Duke of Monmouth, which never took effect. 



was out of place from the first. Appearing at Newburyport 
late in 1662, he lived for a time at the tavern of John Emery, 
a friend of Quakers, who, in March, 1664, was fined for enter- 
taining "Dr. Henry Greenland, a stranger not having a legal 
residence in the town of Newbury." This fine was remitted 
upon the petition of the Selectmen and chief people of Newbury, 
— " considering the usefulness of Mr. Greenland, in respect 
of his practice in our town. " It was further stated that 

He was, by reason of his acquaintance with Capt. Barefoote, etc. 
inclinable to settle in the country, if he liked, — and to make use 
of his practice of Physic and Chirurgery amongst us. But, being as 
yet unsettled, and uncertain where to fix, until his wife (whom he 
hath sent for) did come, he was necessarily put upon it to reside 
near such patients as had put themselves in his hands for cure. 

He was unprincipled and quarrelsome, like his Dover friend, 
and hardly seems genial, like Barefoote. In September, 1664, 
he was convicted of an assault on William Thomas and Richard 
Dole, in a Newbury tavern, and even earlier he was before the 
Essex County court on a charge of immorality. He sold his 
Newburyport house, at the corner of Market and Merrimac 
Streets, January 12, 1666, and removed to Kittery, where he 
bought land which he afterward sold to Barefoote. He had 
in the preceding year, 1665, got involved in a quarrel with 
Richard Cutt, the richest merchant in Portsmouth, as appears 
by entries in the record of the royal Commission of Cartwright, 
Carr and Maverick, sitting at Portsmouth in July, 1665, thus: 

We do freely forgive Mr. Richard Cutt concerning any injury 
he might be supposed to have done us by some words which he was 
accused to have spoken against the King's Commissioners (about 
having a dagger put into their bellies or guts, or words to the like 
purpose.) And if the said Cutt never molest Thomas Wiggin of 
Dover, or Dr. Greenland of Newbury, for giving evidence against 
him, or for reporting him to be the author of such words, we promise 
never to produce those writings and evidences which they have 
sworn to before us, to his hurt or damage. 

Thus the matter passed off for the time; but the animosity 
of Greenland continued for years, and in 1670 Captain Foun- 
taine of the armed vessel Mermaiden, then lying at the Shoals 
(May 28), wrote to Richard Cutt as follows: 

191 1.] CHURCHMEN ON THE PASCATAQUA, 1650-1690. 227 

About five days past there came on board of me one of your 
neighbors, by name Henry Greenland, who pretended some acquaint- 
ance with some of my men, especially with one Gardner, who he 
hath employed to speak to me about an unworthy design, as per 
the enclosed deposition you may know. 


Robert Gardner, upon oath before John Hunking at the Shoals 
saith: That Mr. Henry Greenland said unto him that he would 
put our ship's company upon a brave purchase: which should be 
by the seizing on the person of Mr. Richard Cutt, and to carry him 
for England; and that it would be effected with a great deal of ease, 
by carrying the ship to Pascataway; and that a small number of 
our men might go and take himself, and cause him and his servants 
to carry down on their backs such money and goods as was there 
to be found. And he was sure the purchase would be worth £10,000; 
and he would maintain the doing thereof in point of law; for that 
the said Cutt had spoken treason against the King. 

This and other evil words and deeds did so incense the Great 
and General Court at Boston that in June, 1672, the following 
record was made, and followed up until Dr. Greenland sailed 
away to Piscataway in New Jersey, taking the name of his 
region with him, and fastening it upon a coast town in that 

Henry Greenland appearing before this Court, and being legally 
convicted of many high misdemeanors i. e. endeavoring to disturb 
His Majesty's government here settled, reviling the courts of jus- 
tice and the magistrates in base and unworthy terms, and making 
quarrels and contentions among the people in a very perfidious 
manner, with profane cursing and swearing: is sentenced to pay 
a fine of 20 pounds in money, and to depart the limits of this juris- 
diction within two months, next coming, and not to return again 
without the license of the General Court or Council: On penalty 
of being severely whipt 30 stripes, and to pay a fine of 100 pounds: 
and not to be admitted hereafter to be a surety or attorney in any 
legal process; and to stand committed until the fine of 20 pounds 
be satisfied. 

His time of banishment was finally extended till September, 
1673, and he thenceforth lived in Piscataway, New Jersey, 
dying there in 1695. He there owned property, bore the 
title of Captain, and left two children, Henry and Frances, who 


made good marriages and left descendants now living, — one 
of whom, F. C. Cochran of Ithaca, New York, gives me this in- 
formation. A grandson of Dr. Greenland, Barefoot Brinson, 
born about 1683, became high sheriff of Middlesex County, 
New Jersey. This name makes it probable that Greenland 
was a far-away cousin of Walter Barefoote; who was himself 
the grandson of Sarah Culverwell, wife of Thomas Barefoot 
of Lambourn in Essex, and daughter of a famous Puritan 
minister, Ezekiel Culverwell. Walter's father seems to have 
been John, a merchant in London. 

V. Robert Mason, Esquire. This unlucky grandson of the 
grantee of New Hampshire, was the son of Anne Mason, who 
married a Tufton in England. On inheriting his grandfather's 
New England property, Robert took the name of Mason in- 
stead of Tufton. That name, however, continued to alternate 
with the name of Mason; and when the last single owner of the 
Masonian claims sold them to a syndicate at Portsmouth in 
1746, he bore the double name of John Tufton Mason. He 
was the grandson of Catharine Wiggin, the daughter of Sarah 
Barefoote and Thomas Wiggin, who had married a son of 
Robert Mason, thus uniting the families of two of the subjects 
of this essay. 

Robert Mason, grandson of John, was a second cousin of 
Edward Randolph, the great enemy of New England charters, 
who secured the abrogation of the Massachusetts charter, and 
held several offices under the Lords of Trade in England and 
in the royal governments of America. Had Mason possessed 
the energy and tact of Randolph, he might have perhaps come 
into full ownership of the lands he claimed; for he had on his 
side the English king and the English courts, although Massa- 
chusetts and the New Hampshire yeomanry were against him 
and thwarted him. He was a gentle, weak man, always in debt; 
like weak men in general, he alternated between moderation and 
violence, and drifted with the tide of events. Born in 1634, 
shortly before John Mason's death, he Kved in England until 
about 30, leaving his New England claims to be handled by 
his grandmother and her agent, Joseph Mason, who in 165 1 
made a fair and manly effort to settle the dispute over the 
Mason property and claims with Massachusetts, which then 
had practical sway in New Hampshire. This failing, while the 

191 1.] CHURCHMEN ON THE PASCATAQTJA, 1650-1690. 229 

representatives of Gorges in Maine appealed to Parliament in 
Cromwell's day, the Masons waited till the Restoration, and 
made their appeal as churchmen and loyalists to Charles II. 
He favored their cause, but acted, as they did, with little energy, 
and the matter dragged along till 1679, when Charles II made 
New Hampshire a separate Province, as his father had intended, 
and put Mason into the Council to assist his first royal Gov- 
ernor, Cranfield, in the control of the little colony, which then 
had less than 5,000 people, but was prosperous and growing 
fast. Mason was afterward made a Councillor in the govern- 
ment by Sir Edmund Andros, of New England and New York, 
and died at Kingston, N. Y., in 1686, while on a tour of duty in 
that office. He had long resided in New Hampshire, usually 
at Great Island, where, after 1682, Barefoote had a house and 
usually lived. But all Mason's opportunities availed him little; 
he always took things by the wrong handle, and the support 
of Randolph, who vibrated between England and New England, 
could not help the incapable heir forward. In October, 1685, 
Randolph wrote to a friend: 

It is proposed that Mr. Mason should quit his pretensions in 
New England, and lay all at his Majesty's feet [James II] upon 
the King's making him governor of Bermuda, and allowing him 
and his heirs two or three hundred pounds yearly, forever, to be 
paid out of the quitrents. And now, since charters are at so low 
an ebb, I fear his grants will hardly hold out, upon a trial at the 
Council Board. His enemies have the larger purse. 

At this time Randolph, who had generosity mingled with his 
animosities, was allowing Mason £20 a year, towards his main- 
tenance. Two months before Mason's death in 1686, Ran- 
dolph wrote from Boston: "My cousin Mason can make no 
progress in his business: he has attempted to try his title at 
Pascataqua, but has been delayed by the judges, and the 
inhabitants are far more obstinate than formerly; Mr. West, 
my deputy secretary, having told some of them that his title 
is little worth. . . . They are for leaving him out of all." 

The year before Mason's" death in the Province of New York 
he endured an assault in New Hampshire at the hands of Bare- 
foote's brother-in-law, Thomas Wiggin of Dover, in spite of 
all that the Captain, now grown old, could do to protect him. 


Mason testified in March, 1686, that on the 30th of December, 
1685, a ft er he had posted placards calling on the New Hamp- 
shire planters to recognize his rights as landlord, and pay their 
rents as required, two of the recalcitrants came to Barefoote's 
house on Great Island, — he being then Deputy Governor of 
the Province, — when a fray occurred, which has often been 

VI. Edward Randolph. Although never a settled resident 
on the Pascataqua, or, indeed, anywhere else in the English 
Colonies, this gentleman (born at Canterbury, England, in 
July, 1632, and dying in one of the Southern or West India 
Colonies about 1704) was so closely, variously and persistently 
connected with the efforts to supplant Puritanism here by the 
Church of England, and to change our system of land tenure, 
that he was more formidable to the planters in New England 
of the Puritan faith and practice, than all of those already 
mentioned. He also outlived them nearly all, and was far more 
active and influential than any of them. His life and corre- 
spondence have been printed, but in so many volumes, and at 
such an interval between the first and the last, that few except 
close students of our early Colonial history are familiar with his 
busy, adventurous and malicious career. Edward was the son 
of Dr. Edmund Randolph, an educated physician, of Univer- 
sity College, Oxford, and the nephew of John Randolph, ances- 
tor of many of the Virginia Randolphs. His grandfather, Ber- 
nard Randolph, a wealthy clothier of Kent, married an heiress 
in that county, Jane Boddenham, and his descendants inherited 
her manor of Lessenden, and held it till the last Randolph 
(Rev. Herbert) sold it in 1808. Edmund, the fifth son of Ber- 
nard, was born in 1600, educated in medicine at Pavia, admitted 
ad eundem at Oxford in 1628, married Deborah, daughter of 
Giles Master of Canterbury, and spent his after life as a phy- 
sician in that cathedral town. His monument in St. George's 
church there has a quaint Latin epitaph, which as it has been 
incorrectly punctuated in his son's life, I will here copy: 

Edmundus Randolph, ex antiqua familia ortus, medicinas doctor 
exercitatissimus, aliorum prolatando vitam, decurtavit suam. 

Numerosa auctus prole, filiis decern, molliorisque sexus quinque, 
mundum simul ac domum locupletavit suam. Hisce libens, sociam 
dedit operam Deborah femina, si quae alia spectatissima, Dni. 

191 1.] CHURCHMEN ON THE PASCATAQUA, 1650-1690. 23 1 

iEgidii Master, nuper de civitate Canturiae, Armigeri, filia quarta, 
uxor semper fida, semper impense dilecta. 
Ultima Lethi 
Vis rapuit rapietque gentes. 1 

Edward seems to have been the second of these ten sons, 
with known brothers, Giles and Bernard, named for their two 
grandfathers, and both deputies of Edward at Boston in New 
England. Edward was educated to the bar, but seldom prac- 
tised; the Revolution of 1640 interrupted his way of life, for 
he was on the losing side. Before the Restoration of Charles II 
he had married in his native county of Kent, Jane Gibbon, 
sister of Matthew Gibbon, great-grandfather of the historian 
Gibbon. Another of her brothers Gibbon married Anne Tuf ton, 
granddaughter of Captain John Mason, — so that Mrs. Edward 
Randolph was aunt of the unlucky Robert Mason, whom her 
husband calls ' ' cousin. ' ' Upon the Restoration Randolph began 
to get offices from the royal administrations, and Mason had 
his land-titles favored by the easy-going king, without deriving 
much benefit from that favor. Randolph, however, beginning 
as a commissioner to buy timber for the navy, in 1661, held 
one office after another for more than forty years, in course of 
which time he served four sovereigns, all Stuarts, and probably 
died in an onerous and ill-paid revenue office, which had brought 
him into incessant quarrels in every Colony from Maine to 
Carolina, and had made personal enemies from twenty to fifty, 
perhaps a hundred, important Colonial officials; against whom 
he had brought all sorts of charges of inefficiency or malad- 
ministration. He secured the abrogation of the Massachusetts 
Charter, and had previously procured the establishment of 
New Hampshire as a royal Province. 

Randolph and his official friend in London, William Blath- 

1 This bit of Horace is from the 13th Ode of the Second Book, on sudden death; 
but in changing "improvisa" to Ultima, the copyist spoiled the poet's quantity. 
Translated, the epitaph ran, — " Edmund Randolph, sprung from an ancient 
family, an all-experienced doctor of medicine, in prolonging the life of others 
abbreviated his own. Endowed with a numerous offspring, he enriched the 
world and his own household with ten sons and five of the softer sex. To these 
did his wife, Deborah, fourth daughter of Gyles Master Esq. late of Canterbury 
Town, Admirable among all women, joyfully give her domestic care. 

Death's sudden stroke, 
Snatched and will snatch all folk." 


wayt (as he signed his name), procured the appointment of a 
needy spendthrift about the court of Charles II, as the first 
royal Governor of the Province of New Hampshire, upon an 
understanding that this Edward Cranfield, who hoped to make 
his fortune in New England, should share his gains with Blath- 
wayt and one or two others in London. But he also may have 
had secret instructions from the king to promote the royal 
scheme of uniting Maine and New Hampshire in one princi- 
pality for Monmouth. Cranfield's confidential letters to Blath- 
wayt, published by the Prince Society, shed much light on the 
base character of this governor, and the bad faith of himself 
and Randolph toward each other and the public. Both took 
part with Robert Mason in his defeated attempt to hold New 
Hampshire as lord-proprietor; and Cranfield intimates that 
he was offered by Mason one of his daughters in marriage, with 
a good share of the rents of the Province as a dowry. He was 
also promised £150 a year by Mason for aiding him in the 
courts to collect his rents, and this seems to have been paid. It 
was one of the charges against Cranfield which led to his recall 
by the Earl of Halifax in 1685. 

In Cranfield's efforts to raise money by illegal taxation, he 
was stoutly opposed by one of my ancestors, Edward Gove, who 
further undertook to make an armed demonstration against 
Cranfield and the Duke of York, early in 1683. It failed, what- 
ever its real purpose was, and Gove, in February, 1683, was con- 
victed of high treason, and ordered to England for execution, 
under the barbarous law of treason then in force. Randolph, 
who, in the exercise of his revenue office, crossed the Atlantic 
often, undertook to convey Gove to England for execution, and 
Cranfield, expecting to gain much money from the confiscation 
of his estate, wrote thus to Jenkins, secretary for the Plantations: 

I send you on the ship Richard, under Mr. Randolph's care, 
Edward Gove, an assemblyman, who is condemned to death for 
raising a rebellion in this province. I intended to execute him here, 
for terror to the whole party, who are still mutinous, — had my 
commission allowed it. I cannot, with safety to myself and the 
province, keep Gove long in custody; for, because of the great 
expense of guards for him, I have reason to fear that he may escape. 
Moreover, by my commission I am ordered to send home rebels; 
and if Gove escape the sentence of the law, there is an end of the 

191 1.] CHURCHMEN ON THE PASCATAQUA, 1650-1690. 233 

king's government in New Hampshire. ... I hope to keep the 
peace; but I beg that Mr. [Edward] Randolph may be sent back 
to me with a small frigate, to await orders; otherwise I can promise 
the king little success in the charge committed to me. Mr. Ran- 
dolph has been very diligent; he now undertakes the duty and 
cost of transporting Gove. I cannot repay him from colonial funds, 
as they are brought so low by the expense of Gove's rising. I beg, 
therefore, that his expenses may be allowed. 

Probably they were, or we should have heard something more 
from Randolph, who was not backward in urging his claims 
and aspersing Cranneld. He delayed sailing from Boston till 
the end of March; for there is a warrant by Cranfield to Henry 
Joules of the Richard, bidding him "to transport Edward Gove, 
lately sentenced to death for high treason, to England, there to 
be executed, according to the king's order." This is dated 
March 29, 1683, when Cranneld was in Boston; from which 
town he wrote to his crony, Blathwayt, in London, June 19, 
that he was watching the Bay Puritans, adding: 

Gove's estate was so inconsiderable, and so conveyed away, that 
all I could make of it was 200 pounds in money of this country, 
to be paid at several times, — the first payment not being till 
January next; and then I will return you a third part of it; which 
shall be your portion for the future of all advantages that shall 
arise to me here, or wherever I am employed in his majesty's ser- 
vice. (January 16, 1684). I find that Mr. Cooke hath an expecta- 
tion from the confederates of Gove. I do assure you, and so doth 
Mr. Randolph know, that they are not worth anything; else he 
might be sure I would have taken care that he should have been 
considered. But out of Gove's estate, which was appraised at £200, 
to be paid in two years, he may depend upon 20 pieces. The first 
payment is to be the beginning of March, and the other 100 pounds 
that time 12 months, — but he shall receive his out of the first 

Randolph with his convict landed at Falmouth late in May, 
and delivered him at the Tower, June 6, 1683. The next day 
the lieutenant of the Tower inquired of Sir Leoline Jenkins if 
the king will pay the board of Gove, — as he did, at £3 a week. 
He added: "I keep two warders with him, one to lie in his 
chamber, and the other never to be out of his sight. Our 
warder houses are so full of our officers that we have no 
place for prisoners." 



Four days after this double guard of a harmless Puritan, 
Gove himself wrote to Randolph, with whom he had made a 
friendly acquaintance on the voyage: 

I make bold to trouble you with my affairs, who are a person 
that knows my circumstances very well. You know my case, and 
what to urge in my behalf; had I known the laws of the land to be 
contrary to what was done, I would never have done it. You 
may well think I was ignorant of any law to the contrary, since for 
14 or 15 years past the same thing hath been done every year, and 
no notice at all taken of it. 

What this meant, I cannot say: his demonstration alarmed 
Cranfield and Barefoote, then captain of the fort on Great 
Island, where he held Gove in irons. Gove went on to say to 
Randolph : 

I have further to request of you (if it may not be inconvenient) 
that you will please to assist me in my necessity with some money; 
and, so far as my promise may signify in the case, do promise that, 
whatever you will be pleased to furnish me withal here, you shall 
take it out of my estate in New England. These things I desire 
you will be pleased to do for me, — whereby you do me great acts 
of charity, and always oblige me to remain, honored sir, to command, 
to my power. 

What Randolph may have done besides advancing money to 
Gove, is not on record; but when Gove's case came before the 
privy council in August (the famous Earl of Halifax presiding) 
it was merely decreed to hold him in the Tower during King 
Charles's pleasure, who refused to execute him. Great wrath 
against Cranfield existed in New Hampshire. The incensed 
colonists raised a fund and sent Justice Weare to London to 
complain of his misdeeds ; his friend, Randolph, turned against 
him. Writing from London, July 26, 1684, Randolph said: 
"Wyre hath lately put in articles against Mr. Cranfield, which 
render him here a very ill man, and in time will do his business.' ' 
In March, 1685, writing to a bishop, he added: 

Whoever goes over as governor, with expectation to make his 
fortune, will disserve his majesty, disappoint himself, and utterly 
ruin that country. . . . Very unlucky for the king's service was 
the sending over Cranfield to New Hampshire, who by his arbi- 
trary proceedings has so harassed that poor people. ... He has 

ipilj CHURCHMEN ON THE PASCATAQUA, 1650-1690. 235 

quite ruined that place; and his open immorality, as well in Boston, 
where he hired a house and told them he had assurance of that 
government, upon vacating their charter, was one great reason why 
the Bostoners did not submit upon my last going over. 

In April, 1685, Halifax, president of the Privy Council, wrote 
a letter to Cranfield censuring him and intimating his recall, 
at the same time saying to persons who reported him to the 
French envoy, Barillon, "that the laws in force in England 
ought to be established in every country inhabited by Eng- 
lishmen; that an absolute government is neither so happy nor 
so safe as that which is tempered by laws; and that he could 
not make his mind easy to live in a land where the king had 
power to take money out of his pocket whenever his Majesty 
saw fit." Meantime Charles II had died (February, 1685), 
and James II had succeeded, with Halifax still at the head of 
the Council. September 14, 1685, this pardon of Gove issued 
from the Council: 

James R. Whereas, Edward Gove was near three years since 
apprehended, tried and condemned for High Treason in our Colony 
of New England in America, and in June 1683 was committed prisoner 
to the Tower of London. We have thought fit hereby to signify 
to you Our Will and Pleasure that you cause him, the said Edward 
Gove, to be inserted in the next General Pardon that shall come out 
for the poor Convicts at Newgate, without any conditions of trans- 
portation; he giving such security for his good behavior as you shall 
think requisite. And for so doing this shall be your Warrant. 

Given at our Court at Windsor the 14 day of September 1685, in 
the first year of our Reign. By his Majesty's command. 


To our Trusty and Wellbeloved Recorder of London, and all 
others whom it may concern. 

Gove, for some reason, remained in captivity till March or 
April, 1686, and was thus in the Tower when the Duke of Mon- 
mouth was brought in, a prisoner under sentence of death. He 
had previously, in the year 1683, seen the arrest and execution 
of Sidney and Russell, preceded by the murder of Essex in his 
room; and had heard, in so much of the gossip of London as 
reached his seclusion, of the avowal of Charles that he was a 
Papist, like his brother, and all the rumors of that evil time. 


At times, in Gove's life of seventy years, there were periods of 
insanity, in one of which his property, which was consider- 
able for those days, was put under guardians; and this 
may explain eccentricities in his conduct. He is said to 
have come home with a fancy that his food in the Tower 
had been poisoned, — a common delusion of the insane. But 
the confidence of his countrymen was not withdrawn from 
him; and in 1690 he joined with twenty others in framing a 
temporary constitution for his small province, during the 
interval between the two charters of Massachusetts, and 
the modifications of New Hampshire's form of government. 
King James had directed his property to be restored to him; 
and it is to be hoped that Cranfield had to disgorge his hundred 
pounds. But details are lacking. Cranfield was very angry 
with Randolph, when he got back to Bristol from Barbadoes in 
January, 1686. He called on Sir Robert Southwell, a friend of 
Blathwayt and Randolph, who thus reports him, in a letter 
from King's Weston: 

Mr. Cranfield came in [January 5] telling me that upon sight of 
my livery, he could not forbear to find me out. In a very short 
time he fell to rail bitterly against Mr. Randolph; that he had sent 
home affidavits against him and other malefactors, but all his com- 
plaints were supprest; that he had contended with two open rebel- 
lions in his government, and thought it a blessing to be well rid of 
it, and the more since Mr. Blathwayt had been unkind to him. I 
asked him whose fault was it if he had caught a Tartar, and found 
some disappointments in the thing he so much desired? He told me 
he never had desired that government; that it was only your impor- 
tunity that made him go. . . . He raised his own merit above all, 
saying he was a gentleman wellborn, and that his grandfather was 
the first that discovered the gunpowder treason; but Randolph was 
a scoundrel. 

I suppose Cranfield to have been the great-grandson of the 
Baron Morley and Monteagle, who disclosed the powder plot 
in November, 1605, by which disclosure several of his friends 
lost their lives. Cranfield himself was astute in plots, but not 
capable of carrying them to success; in that point Randolph 
was his superior, and in some ways a better man. 

The immediate object of Cranfield in having Gove's trifling 
demonstration treated as a treasonable insurrection was, that 

1911.J CHURCHMEN ON THE PASCATAQUA, 1650-1690. 237 

he might personally profit by the confiscation of his property, 
which he fancied larger than it was. In the two volumes added 
two years since by the Prince Society to their memoirs of 
Randolph, from secret material among the papers of his friend 
and patron, William Blathwayt (generally called Blaithwait), 
more light is thrown on the motives of Cranfield than has 
come to my notice elsewhere. The charges made by his victims 
and opponents might be exaggerated, but in these confidential 
letters and interviews he disclosed himself to clear view. It 
was Blathwayt who procured him the office of Governor of 
the small royal Province in 1682, and with a distinct understand- 
ing that he was to make money, and share his gains with his 
patron and one or two more in England. It is also likely that 
he had secret instructions from Charles II to procure the annex- 
ation of Maine to New Hampshire, in order to form a County 
Palatine for his bastard son, Monmouth, which was once a 
favorite scheme of Charles. At any rate, Cranfield, soon after 
landing, in October, 1682, took up zealously this scheme, as 
likely to be profitable to himself and to Blathwayt. In one of 
his first letters from Portsmouth (December 1, 1682) he wrote: 

If the province of Maine be added to this Government, please 
to prevent any patent for Secretary and Provost marshal, or for 
lands, or other things at his Majesty's disposal here, and give me 
notice of it. And let the appointing of a man or men for that ser- 
vice be left with me, and I will take care to put in such whereby 
the interests of yourself and my friend Gwinn may be served with 
my own. And the consideration of my serving the King here with- 
out salary may help the matter to come off the easier; whether it 
be secured to us by way of patent or otherwise, as you think fit. 

Cranfield's schemes, like those of Robert Mason about the 
income from his New Hampshire leases, were golden dreams, 
of which here is a sample, in his letter to Blathwayt of February 
20, 1683: 

I give you my faith that you and Mr. Randolph shall come into 
an equal part of everything that tends to profit. First, as to the 
settlement of the Province of Maine, — we shall at least make 
£3,000. The Narragansett country lies between several claimers; 
both parties have money, and three or four thousand pounds will 
not be felt in the disposal of those lands. As for Boston, there are 


some persons to be exempt out of the pardon, who will buy their 
pardon at 8 or 10 thousand pounds' price; besides, there are several 
grants of town lands, which will in a year or two come to be removed, 
to pay above £2,000 upon their new leases. The excise and Customs 
yearly paid come to about £1,500, — and there is above £5,000 
money which was collected for the Evangelizing of Indians, now 
out at use in the country; which, by commission may be inspected 
into and regulated: with other advantages which will arise in 
the settlement. 

After these great expectations, none of which were realized, 
it was a wet blanket to find that all Cranfield could get out of the 
confiscation of Gove's property was a poor £200, to be divided 
between himself, Blathwayt and a third pal named Cooke. In 
this whole affair it is plain that Gove, without intending it in 
the least, became an instrument; for his imprisonment, and the 
exactions of Mason and Cranfield (to whom Mason's daughter 
had been promised, with a dowry of £3,000), led to the recall 
of the Governor and the defeat of all Mason's claims, though 
these were kept up for a century longer. Randolph had his 
own expectations of profit from land-grants, fees and pardons, 
— the whole plot for which Cranfield in this secret intrigue dis- 
closed; but, like his false friend, he was thwarted, and, of all 
men in the world, by Colonel Dudley, during the years 1686-89. 
When, after long delay, the Massachusetts Colony Charter was 
abrogated, and the new Stuart government set up in Boston, 
with Dudley as President of the Council, in 1686, Randolph 
became Secretary of the Council, and John Usher its Treasurer. 1 
Their prosperity was but brief; for in April, 1689, Randolph 
was seized, along with Andros, Dudley and other supporters 
of James II in Boston, and imprisoned at Castle Island, for 
weeks, waiting to be sent over to William and Mary in London 
for trial upon charges made by Bradstreet, Hutchinson and the 
other Massachusetts men who had rejected Andros and Dudley 
and set up the old Charter government. 

1 This connection with Usher, who escaped with little suffering for his share 
with Dudley and Andros, and soon became lieutenant-governor of New Hamp- 
shire, gave point to what Randolph wrote to his friend Blathwayt in March, 
1693, during a war with France in which New Hampshire suffered much from 
Indians: "After all I hear, my neighbor John's bed of honor, Pascataqua, is 
about 3 or 4 parcels of miserable wretches in poor garrison houses instead of 

iguj CHURCHMEN ON THE PASCATAQUA, 1650-1690. 239 

By 1692 Randolph had cleared himself in England, as Andros 
and Dudley had done, from the accusations against him, and 
was back in the Colonies as a revenue officer, vigilantly on the 
watch for irregular trade to interfere with the English colonial 
monopoly, which had suffered greatly during the disturbed years 
1689-92. Dudley also was back, but not yet in Boston. He 
had an official appointment covering New York and New Jersey, 
and had fallen out of Randolph's good graces. In 1685 nobody 
was more fit than Dudley, in Randolph's opinion, to have high 
place in New England, and he obtained it largely through 
Randolph, I suppose. But seven years later the wind blew 
from another quarter. Writing to Blathwayt from New York, 
August 16, 1692, Randolph said: 

I question not but you have been plentifully addressed by Mr. 
Dudley from the first, shewing how forward he has been, and what 
pains he has taken to have your salary as auditor allowed and duly 
paid; how diligent to seek the peace and promote the good of this 
people, etc. Such topics he can write largely upon, but every word 
is false. . . . No accounts are audited. Pinhorne only withstands it, 
in avowed prejudice to you, — being Dudley's creature, and of the 
New England faction. Dudley, Johnson and Pinhorne have no 
estates in the Province [New York,] and it's a great heartburning 
to most of the inhabitants that mere strangers should be appointed 
to dispose of their lives and estates. ... I am unwilling to detain 
you to make unnecessary reflections upon Joseph the Jew (for so 
now Mr. Dudley is called); yet I may not without injustice be 
wholly silent. I omit the bribery and injustice, the perjury and 
flattery commonly charged upon him at the trial of those persons 
who ruined a thriving country and an industrious people. . . . 
After this, and a long chain of his frauds and briberies, known and 
felt by too too many in this Province, must their Majesties' interests, 
the peace and preservation of all that is good in the Province be 
sacrificed to the boundless ambition of this Ignis Fatuus? I have 
no prejudice against Mr. Dudley; what I have wrote is experimentally 
true. . . . Had Dudley been in the Province, and succeeded Govr. 
Slaughter, he would, Judas-like, have sold his King, his country 
and the liberty of the people to the next frank bidder. 

Exactly when and how this animosity to Dudley began, 
does not yet appear. Randolph had usually been a straight- 
forward person, if compared with several on both sides of that 
great controversy over the colonial charters, which began in 


Charles First's time, and was still unsettled at the outbreak 
of our Revolution in 1775. Randolph, like his wife's kindred, 
the Masons, was steadily opposed to proprietary charters, 
although he supported Robert Mason for a time in his claim to 
dispose of New Hampshire in block, under a system of quitrents. 
He had a sharp controversy with William Penn over his pro- 
prietary government in Pennsylvania and Delaware, and epi- 
thets were interchanged between them in King William's 
reign, — that monarch being also in favor of making the 
Colonies Crown Provinces, as New Hampshire and Virginia 
were. Randolph complained that Scotch merchants and ship- 
masters had too much their own way in Maryland and Pennsyl- 
vania, and that Penn had made a Scotchman Secretary of his 
Province. He implied that the other officials in Pennsylvania 
were poor men and therefore open to bribes from the illegal 
traders, and those whom Randolph terms "pirates," — who 
seem to have combined smuggling with actual piracy, under the 
guise of privateering. William Penn replied angrily to these 
complaints, for which there was certainly some foundation, — 
writing to the House of Lords Committee, March 1, 1697: 

That the Governor favors pirates is both foul and false. 

That Patrick Robinson is a Scotchman and Secretary is true: 
but that he is by the laws of England capable of being so, is as true. 
But he was not of my making, and if the King thinks it improper, 
he shall be immediately removed. . . . For what concerns Ran- 
dolph's reflections upon our judges, they are honest and substantial 
men, — one of them being worth 50 times the estate of the reflector. 
. . . That Col. Markham desired the Collector's place can be no 
fault to the King, that I know of, nor to himself if profitable. But 
if his poverty be an objection, he shall be changed if the King pleases: 
but for that reason E. Randolph ought not to be Surveyor of the 
Customs; who, I have reason to believe, is not worth 500 pounds, 
if one, in the whole world. 

It is true that Randolph, though almost all his life in office, 
was never a rich man, nor in fact independent. He endured 
hardship in the discharge of what he thought his duty; was 
imprisoned nine months at Boston in 1689-90, for a shorter time 
in Maryland, and for nine months at Bermuda in 1699. He 
was threatened with a " drubbing" by Sir William Phipps in 
the summer of 1692; at which time he renewed his visits to 

iguj CHURCHMEN ON THE PASCATAQUA, 1650-1690. 241 

Pascataqua, where, ten years before, he had co-operated with 
Cranneld the Governor, and Mason, his kinsman, in oppressing 
the planters, in order to force them to pay rent to Mason and 
take titles from him to their own lands. He, had however, been 
friendly with Gove, and aided him to recover his estate. The 
Duke of York, when James II, pardoned Gove in 1685, and 
ordered his confiscated estate to be restored to him, — a small 
meadow in which I now own by inheritance. Gove made friends 
with Randolph, and they spoke kindly of each other. When 
he came to understand the situation in Virginia, where his 
uncle John Randolph had been one of the large proprietors, 
Edward Randolph saw the mischief that large estates were 
doing in a new colony, — the same that latifundia were doing for 
Italy in the days of Tiberius Gracchus. Writing to the Board 
of Trade, in the summer of 1696, from Virginia, he said: 

Whence comes it that Virginia, the first English settlement upon 
the continent of America, begun above 80 years ago, is not better 
inhabited? considering what vast numbers of servants and others 
have yearly been transported thither. Some have imputed it to 
the unheal thiness of the place. But the chief or only reason is, the 
inhabitants and planters have been discouraged and hindered from 
planting tobacco, and servants are not so willing to go there as for- 
merly, — because the members of the Council, and others who 
make an interest in the government, have from time to time pro- 
cured grants of very large tracts of land. So that there has not for 
many years been any waste land to be taken up by those who bring 
with them servants, or by servants who have served their time 
faithfully with their masters; but it is taken up and ingrossed before- 
hand; whereby they are forced to hire and pay a yearly rent for 
some of those lands, or go to the utmost bounds of the Colony, for 
land exposed to danger from Indians. . . . Such grants being pro- 
cured upon easy terms, and very often upon false certificates; many 
hold 20,000 or 30,000 acres apiece, without paying one penny quit- 
rent for it. . . . Whereby some 100,000 acres are taken up, but not 
planted; which drives away the inhabitants, and servants brought 
up only to planting, to seek their fortunes in Carolina and other 
places, which depopulates the country. 

Randolph therefore recommended several things; that his 
cousin William Randolph, then Attorney General in Virginia, 
be removed for incompetence, and that Edward Chilton serve 



as Attorney General for Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, 
Pennsylvania and West Jersey; that no grants of more than 
500 acres be made, and all grants be revoked where the condi- 
tions had not been complied with; and thus 100,000 acres be 
in the hands of the Crown, under a competent Attorney General, 
fit for granting in small estates to actual settlers. He then 
added : 

The granting away such lands in parcels not exceeding 500 acres 
to one man, will mightily increase the number of planters; who, 
through necessity, will seat themselves in a far nearer neighborhood 
than formerly, and thereby be better enabled to secure their country, 
their families and plantations, from spoil and rapine. And many 
thousand hogsheads of tobacco will be yearly made, more than were 
formerly in that colony; the trade, the shipping and the navigation 
of England will be encouraged, and the revenue of His Majesty's 
customs upon tobacco thereby yearly increased. 

Doubtless this would have been the result; but the policy 
was not adopted, and Virginia continued to increase in black 
slaves more than in white freemen. In New England the oppo- 
site result occurred, for the Churchmen on the Pascataqua 
failed in their plans for great estates and glebe lands, and 
clergymen appointed by squires, in the English fashion. Ran- 
dolph lived to see that failure, and to learn that it was a bad 
policy, though favored by the Stuart kings and the archbishops 
of the English Church "as by Parliament established." With 
all his malice and vituperation he had good common sense, and 
apparently, like his New Hampshire partisan Barefoote, much 
kindness of heart where partisan politics were not involved. 

VII. Nicholas Shapleigh. This last on my list of Church- 
men was almost the only one who left acknowledged descend- 
ants in the Pascataqua region, except Robert Mason. He 
was, like several of them, from English Devonshire, and became 
a considerable owner of lands in Maine and New Hampshire. 
Like Archdale, he became a Quaker early, but whether for 
spiritual or material or political reasons, is not clear. He was 
connected by affinity with the Hiltons of Exeter, who had so 
many and so various dealings with Walter Barefoote, but does 
not seem to have been as conspicuous as that family in the affairs 
of early New Hampshire. Shapleigh joined with his political 
friends in opposing the Massachusetts domination in Maine, but 


without much success, except in escaping the severe decrees 
of the Puritans for moral or political transgressions. Out- 
wardly respectable, as Barefoote and Greenland were not, he 
seems to have kept within the limits of accepted law, and 
when affairs settled down his kindred became peaceable and 
law-abiding citizens except for such statutes as affected the 

Upon the whole, these Churchmen on both sides of the 
Pascataqua did not succeed in establishing a class of landed 
gentry in Maine and New Hampshire, as their fellow worship- 
pers and Stuart loyalists did in Virginia; although large 
estates, owned for the portioning of children or the increase of 
wealth by grants and sales, were long familiar to the more 
prosperous planters of New England, in each of the Colonies 
that constitute the present six States. This difference be- 
tween the practical land-tenures of the Northern and most of 
the Southern States of the Union, as it existed in 1820, ac- 
counts in part (but only in part) for the fanaticism with 
which the oligarchy of slaveholders adhered to their vicious and 
outgrown " institution," in defence and propagation of which 
they fought the Mexican War and insanely brought on the 
Disunion War. It is only in a community of large landed 
estates that negro slavery has been able profitably to exist 
in modern times; and one of the most beneficent results of 
the emancipation of slavery (against which General Lee 
fought strenuously for three years, until he saw that slavery 
was doomed), has been the breaking up of the great plan- 
tations at the South, and the ownership of land for cultivation 
in small farms. 

Mr. Brooks Adams presented a paper on 

The Seizure of the Laird Rams. 

Part I. 

Rather more than two years ago my brother, Charles Francis 
Adams, erected a monument to my father in the church at 
Quincy, and ever since I have meditated upon how I could, in 
commemoration of that event, best explain why my father 
impressed himself upon me as the most remarkable man I 
have ever known. It was not, I apprehend, because he was 


particularly versatile or brilliant; on the contrary, he was 
rather silent and restricted in the sphere of his interests; buf 
it was, I think, because he possessed in a fuller degree than 
any man I ever met that poise and unity of mind peculiar to 
the eighteenth century, qualities which reached perfection in 
General Washington. 

As my father was born in 1807 and I in 1848, I have some 
consecutive remembrance of him only as he neared fifty, and 
just before he began his public life. At this point of my child- 
hood I recall him best in his study in Boston, where I listened 
to his talk with Charles Sumner and John G. Palfrey about 
slavery; or, what I liked much better, teased him into reading 
i^Esop's Fables to me out of a charming copy bound in blue, 
filled with engravings, in which I delighted. In Quincy he 
seemed to me to correct proof sheets endlessly. They were 
the proofs of the Works of John Adams which he was editing, 
and while he corrected I would sit at his table and pretend to 
study my lessons. I was a trying child, for I was restless and 
inattentive, and I have often wondered how a man as quick- 
tempered as my father could have been so patient with me. One 
night, in particular, I can see myself sitting at his table, where 
I was supposed to be busy with my book, but where instead I 
was wondering whether there was really red ink in a large 
glass inkstand in front of me. Stretching across a heap of 
proof sheets, I possessed myself of the inkstand, and then, put- 
ting my fingers across the mouth, I deliberately turned it 
upside down, and immediately a deluge of red ink ran through 
my fingers, flowed down the proof sheets, and began to trickle 
into the chair. Though my father, at a scream from my sister, 
who was sitting near me, seized the inkstand, I do not think 
he boxed my ears, or even scolded me much. He was rather 
grieved, apparently, to perceive how utterly he failed in train- 
ing me to fix my attention on what I was doing. I really think 
one of the trials of his life was my inattention. He was always 
toiling with me and always failing, until he grew too busy to 
attend to me, when he handed me over to others who, I re- 
gret to say, succeeded no better than he. But in spite of my 
inattention he must have been fond of me, for he liked to have 
me with him, and he took me for long walks and told me stories 
of his boyhood; how he had travelled in a carriage alone with 


his mother across Europe from St. Petersburg to Paris, in the 
winter of 18 15, to join his father, who had been at Ghent; how 
he had seen Napoleon at a window in the Tuileries during the 
"hundred days"; and how after he came home he used to 
pass his winter vacations with his grandfather in his house at 
Quincy, when his chief occupation was to read French to John 
Adams and listen to his tales of the Revolution. Those winter 
vacations he always remembered for the cold, since being the 
youngest he sat at dinner farthest from the fire, and envied his 
grandfather, who had his back to it. In short, my father 
adored his children, was very domestic, never left home with- 
out his wife if he could help it, and disliked clubs. On that 
subject he was often eloquent to me, and there is a character- 
istic entry in his diary touching two of the most exclusive and 
desirable clubs in London. One day in 1862, after he had been 
more than a year in London as minister, he happened to attend 
some function at the Athenaeum to which he had been specially 
invited, and on returning he made this note: "Although I was 
admitted a member on my first arrival here, as well as to the 
Travellers, I am so little of a club man that I have never set 
my foot in either before." 

Ten years later we travelled alone together for some months 
in Europe, when I admit that I found my position difficult; 
but as soon as my mother joined us he became contented and 
sunny. He could not get along without his wife, and he never 
tired of impressing on me the importance of a man's marriage, 
because, said he, "I should never have amounted to anything 
without your mother. But for her I should have been a recluse." 

In 1858 the Quincy district sent my father to Congress, and 
when I was eleven he took me with him to Washington. I do 
not know that what I saw there astonished me as a child, for 
it seemed to me as part of the order of the universe that others 
should defer to him, just as we all did at home; but as I look 
back the position he won in a single session seems marvellous. 
He almost immediately gained commanding influence, appar- 
ently without an effort, simply by force of character. Mr. 
Seward, especially, who was the prospective Republican candi- 
date for the presidency, soon fell into confidential terms. Well do 
I remember Mr. Seward dropping in one wet winter afternoon 
for a chat. He sat down in an arm-chair, thoughtfully pulled 


off his boots as he talked, and stretched out his feet, clad, in 
blue knit stockings, to dry before the fire. My father and Mr. 
Seward had a somewhat similar cast of mind; they were cool 
tacticians, and they agreed in 1860-61 that the most important 
point to gain was time, so that the border States should not 
secede before Lincoln was inaugurated, and thus endanger 
Washington. 1 In support of this policy my father made a con- 
ciliatory speech, which Sumner never forgave, 2 and I have 
sometimes fancied that this breach between Sumner and my 
father had much to do with Sumner's course touching the arbi- 
tration of the Alabama Claims, which ended in permitting my 
father to win what I am now inclined to think was the most 
unqualified success of his life. 

Meanwhile Mr. Lincoln had been elected President and had 
asked Seward to be his Secretary of State. Seward wished to 
have my father in the Treasury, but Mr. Lincoln had other 
views, and finally it was arranged between Seward and his 
chief that my father should be sent to England, in spite of 
Sumner's opinion that he was not fit for the post. And, indeed, 
there was something to be said for Sumner's doubts, for the 
mission was not only the most important on which any single 
American had probably ever been sent, but my father had 
never been in diplomacy, had never even had a thorough legal 
training, had never written a despatch, and had no experience 
in national public life beyond a single term in the House of 
Representatives. What I wonder at now is Seward's knowl- 
edge of character, and my father's self-reliance; for though he 
appreciated very imperfectly the full gravity of the situation in 
England, he yet knew enough to oppress any but a very rash 
or a very strong man, and my father was not rash. Many 
years afterward he said of himself, that his mission to England 
seemed to him "like a wild dream from which I awake with a 
feeling of safety." 

For just a century before the Rebellion broke out, America 
had been rising toward both political and economic independ- 
ence of Europe, and after 1850 it began to dawn on the Euro- 
pean mind that if the democratic experiment in the West were 
to achieve its apparent destiny, privilege in Europe must end. 

1 Proceedings, xliii. 660. 

2 Pierce, Memoir and Letters of Charles Sumner, iv. 9-13. 


John Bright was constantly harping on this theme, and again 
and again passages like this occur in his speeches during our 
Civil War: "When I speak to gentlemen in private upon this 
matter, and hear their own candid opinion — I mean those 
who differ from me on this question — they generally end by 
saying that the Republic is too great and too powerful, and 
that it is better for us — not by ' us ' meaning you [the labor- 
ing class], but the governing classes and the governing policy 
of England — that it should be broken up." Therefore, in 1861, 
the British landed gentry hesitated only in openly siding with 
the South, and dividing the Union, because they were not cer- 
tain that the democratic movement at home might not have 
gone too far to make such a course safe. As a boy at school in 
England I saw these feelings in all their crudity. I always 
heard the North vilified or ridiculed, and John Bright de- 
nounced as an anarchist and a foe of order. For John Bright 
was the foe of privilege, which to my schoolmates meant order, 
and the representative in Parliament of the great levelling 
propaganda which terrified the aristocracy. The schism which 
split English society was almost as deep and fierce as that 
which rent American, and in March, 1863, just as the great 
struggle began over stopping the iron-clad rams building by 
the Lairds, John Bright and John Laird between them defined 
the issue with something akin to ferocity. On March 26 Bright 
addressed a frantically excited audience of trade-unionists in 
St. James's Hall, in London, and the next night Laird answered 
him amidst a cheering House of Commons. This was the Laird 
who had already built the Alabama; who had, on the day that 
Lord Russell issued the order to seize her, sailed down the 
Mersey on her with his daughter as on a party of pleasure in 
order to abet her escape; and who at that moment sat for 
Birkenhead and was notoriously building for the Confederacy 
two of the most powerful battle-ships in the world. 

On March 26 Bright opened the vast meeting of working-men 
with these words: 

Privilege thinks it has a great interest in the American contest, 
and every morning, with blatant voice, it comes into your streets and 
curses the American republic. Privilege has beheld an afflicting 
spectacle for many years past. It has beheld thirty millions of 
men, happy and prosperous, without emperor, — without king, — 


without the surroundings of a court, without nobles, . . . without 
State bishops and State priests, " sole vendors of the lore which 
works salvation " — without great armies and great navies, — with- 
out great debt and without great taxes, — Privilege has shuddered 
at what might happen to old Europe if this grand experiment should 
succeed. . . . There may be men outside, there are men sitting 
amongst your legislators, who will build and equip corsair ships to 
prey upon the commerce of a friendly power, — who will disregard 
the laws and the honour of their country, . . . and who, for the 
sake of the glittering profit which sometimes waits on crime, are 
content to cover themselves with everlasting infamy. . . . 

I speak not to these men ... I speak to you, the working-men 
of London, the representatives, as you are here tonight, of the 
feelings and the interests of the millions who cannot hear my voice. 
I wish you to be true to yourselves. Dynasties may fall, aristoc- 
racies may perish, privilege will vanish into the dim past; but you, 
your children, and your children's children, will remain, and from 
you the English people will be continued to succeeding generations. 

You wish the freedom of your country. You wish it for yourselves. 
You strive for it in many ways. Do not then give the hand of fellow- 
ship to the worst foes of freedom that the world has ever seen. . . . 
You will not do this. (Cries of Never!) I have faith in you. 

To this, on March 27, Laird replied: 

I will allude to a remark which was made elsewhere last night — 
a remark, I presume, applying to me, or to somebody else, which 
was utterly uncalled for. (Hear!) I have only to say that I would 
rather be handed down to posterity as the builder of a dozen Ala- 
hamas than as the man who applies himself deliberately to set class 
against class (loud cheers), and to cry up the institutions of another 
country, which, when they come to be tested, are of no value what- 
ever, and which reduced liberty to an utter absurdity. (Cheers.) 

Whatever I may have felt as a boy at school touching the 
hatred of the English upper class, I can now look back upon 
what occurred during the Civil War with complacency, for not 
only did we win, not only did I afterward see Chief Justice 
Cockburn actually flee from the council room at Geneva when 
the award of the Arbitration was declared, but the malevolence 
of the aristocracy gave my father his opportunity. 

Well do I remember the May evening in 1861 when the 
family arrived in London, and how almost at once the venomous 
atmosphere of the place began to oppress even a boy like me; 


but my father, as far as I could see, remained composed, though 
the first news he read in his morning paper was the acknowl- 
edgment of Confederate belligerency. Then he must have 
realized what was in store for him. He must have known the 
complexion of the British Cabinet; that it was intensely aristo- 
cratic, and supposed to be one of the ablest that had sat 
during the century. Lord Palmerston, the Prime Minister, 
belonged to the influential Temple family, and had held office 
almost continually since 1807, the year of the attack of the 
Leopard on the Chesapeake in Hampton Roads. He had been 
nurtured in the traditions of the press gang, and had matured 
in the era of the arrogance of Waterloo. 

Next to Lord Palmerston ranked Lord John Russell, the Sec- 
retary of State for Foreign Affairs, and the minister with whom 
my father had personally to deal. Lord John was the third 
son of the sixth Duke of Bedford, one of the most opulent and 
powerful nobles of England or of the world. Lord John was 
born in 1792, and in 18 13, when he was not yet twenty-one, and 
only a few months after the Constitution captured the Guerriere, 
the Duke ordered Lord John's return to the House of Commons 
from the family borough of Tavistock, very much as he might 
have ordered for him a suit of clothes. It is true that Lord 
John afterward made his political fortune by supporting the 
Reform Bill, which made havoc with such convenient seats as 
Tavistock, but none the less he had the prejudices of his class 
as fully as Lord Palmerston, or as King William himself, who 
so cordially disliked him. Even his father remonstrated with 
him about his supercilious manners and the way in which he 
offended his followers in the House by treating them de haut en 

Mr. Gladstone was Chancellor of the Exchequer, and de- 
cidedly the most restless, as he was possibly the most interest- 
ing, member of the Government. Starting, in the first reformed 
Parliament, as an extreme Tory, Gladstone pretty early began 
to suspect that he could obtain what he wanted in life by a 
shorter path than conservatism, and in 186 1 he was already 
nearing the parting of the ways. Perhaps the most flexible of 
all eminent English politicians of the nineteenth century ex- 
cept Disraeli, Gladstone was neither liked nor trusted by the 
class to which he by birth belonged, least of all by his chief, 



Lord Palmerston. Indeed Lord Palmerston was far the more 
straightforward and the more reliable man of the two. Of all 
the public men who held office during the Civil War, Gladstone, 
though with radical proclivities, was the most inveterate and 
dangerous foe of the North. When the North prevailed, Glad- 
stone, with amazing assurance, turned right about. He had an 
awkward record to explain, but inconsistency never troubled 
Mr. Gladstone. He calmly dismissed the subject by saying 
that when he spoke at Newcastle in 1862, advocating in sub- 
stance an alliance between England and the South, he must 
have been demented. He was not demented at Newcastle, he 
was only then what he remained until death, — the most slip- 
pery of men. 

Perhaps Gladstone was best described by William E. Forster. 
Forster was too frank to harmonize with Gladstone, and the 
time came when Gladstone dropped him from his Cabinet. 
Afterward when Gordon was besieged in Khartoum, Forster 
tried to make Gladstone relieve him, but Gladstone, finding 
it inconvenient to do so, pretended to believe that there was 
no danger. By this time every one who knew Gladstone rec- 
ognized that he could convince himself of anything that served 
his purpose, and one night Mr. Forster, in the heat of debate, 
blurted out the truth. What he said made a great commotion, 
but it was never forgotten. "I believe every one but the Prime 
Minister is already convinced of that danger, . . . and I 
attribute his not being convinced to his wonderful power of 
persuasion. He can persuade most people of most things, and, 
above all, he can persuade himself of almost anything." 

In May, 1861, Lord Campbell held the Great Seal, but he 
died in June. The Attorney-General, Sir Richard Bethell, 
succeeded him, under the title of Lord Westbury, and few 
people pretended either to like or trust Sir Richard. Four 
years afterward he achieved a distinction which no other 
chancellor had achieved since Lord Macclesfield in 1725. Par- 
liament removed him from office for practices so questionable 
that they could not be ignored. 

The rest of the Cabinet were less conspicuous, but they were, 
as a rule, men of good ability, and they reflected pretty fairly 
English Liberal opinion until it shaded into the radicalism of 
John Bright. With one or two exceptions, all of them, prob- 


ably, would have liked to dismember the United States. They 
differed chiefly as to the risk they were willing to run. Conse- 
quently men like Palmerston, Gladstone, Russell and Bethell 
were much occupied in devising means to succor the South 
safely; only Palmerston and Russell preferred to work above- 
board, if they could, while Bethell was a natural secret con- 
spirator. All of them were politicians of long experience, of 
proved ability, and, except Bethell, not much more unscrupu- 
lous than successful political managers are apt to be. 

Diplomats hated Palmerston, for he was the incarnation of 
arrogance. Nothing, for example, could exceed the brutality 
with which he had trampled on the helpless Greeks in the Don 
Pacifico affair. Still, this did not hurt him with Englishmen who 
understood him and liked him, and also liked his arrogance. He 
had a sure instinct for the drift of English opinion, especially 
among his own class. Lord John was not so popular, and was 
rather more than suspected of slackness in truth-telling, while 
Gladstone was notoriously shifty. Bethell's reputation was not 
good. All the ministers were, of course, at home, surrounded by 
lawyers and secretaries, and enjoying every facility for obtain- 
ing advice and information. The British Foreign Onice, in 
particular, boasted of its admirable staff and of its perfect 

Mr. Adams confronted this whole phalanx alone, in a strange 
and hostile land, and at the head of a legation preposterously 
ill-prepared for an emergency. His one advantage was that, 
being himself in his prime, he represented a people who were 
still elastic and nerved to the point of exaltation by the immi- 
nence of their danger. The English aristocracy were, on the 
other hand, moribund, and were largely led by men in the 
decline of life. In 1861 Lord Palmerston was seventy-seven 
years old, plainly failing in vigor, so much so that he avoided 
when he could severe parliamentary strains. Thus, though the 
British aristocracy were outwardly as haughty and supercilious 
as ever, they were at heart growing timorous, and were ap- 
proaching a period when they would recoil before a resolute 
adversary even when the odds strongly favored them. Lord 
Morley had cause afterward to notice this phenomenon, 
and has commented upon it, in his Life of Gladstone, when 
speaking of the Reform Bill of 1867: "The same timidity that 


made the ruling classes dread reform, had the compensation 
that very little in the way of popular demonstration was quite 
enough to frighten them into accepting it; " 1 and what was true 
of England in 1867 was beginning to be true of England under 

With such antagonists the position of an American minister 
was extremely difficult. A moment's irresolution or apparent 
timidity would have brought him into contempt, and irrita- 
bility or bravado would have made him ridiculous; while 
truckling would have ruined him both abroad and at home. To 
succeed he needed to have at once good manners, absolute 
firmness, and perfect knowledge of the law and the history 
touching the controversies he had to handle, for he had no 
one to help him. Beside all this he must have a profound and 
intuitive insight into English character. He stood between an 
exasperated people in America and an insolent, contemptuous, 
unscrupulous and vindictive aristocracy in England. 

As the summer of 1861 wore on amidst Federal disasters, the 
rancor which had begun to seethe in England against the North 
with the attack on Sumter, changed into a feeling akin to con- 
tempt; so that when in November Captain Wilkes took Mason 
and Slidell from the British ship Trent in the West Indies, an 
explosion of mixed anger and disdain followed in England 
which in the twentieth century seems incredible. By the 
American jurist or statesman the act of Wilkes can only be 
considered to have been exceeded in its impropriety by its 
stupidity, for Mason and Slidell, as prisoners, were of no value 
to the Government at Washington; while, ever since the time 
of General Washington, Americans had been protesting against, 
and sometimes fighting to avenge, just such outrages on neutrals 
as he committed. And yet Lord John Russell, the liberal, 
without giving President Lincoln time to disavow the act of 
his officer, wrote a despatch so insulting in tone that it revolted 
the Prince Consort, who insisted on redrafting it. Even 
as it stood when sent, this note demanded peremptorily an 
apology and the surrender of the prisoners within seven days. 
There can be little doubt touching the intent of the men who 
acted thus. When the news of the Trent reached London, Lord 
Palmerston and Lord John Russell fully intended to provoke 
1 Life of Gladstone, 11. 227. 


war, and this was the construction put upon it by John Bright 
and by most friends of the North. To keep the excitement 
hot the newspapers, which were organs of the Government, 
were rampant in invective, troops were hurried to Canada, the 
fleet on the American coast was ordered to prepare for action, 
and Mr. Adams' notification to the Cabinet, that Wilkes had 
acted without instructions, was suppressed. 

However rashly an American captain may have behaved, or 
however foolishly the American people may have been ex- 
pected by an Englishman to act when under strong excitement, 
it was poor policy for a British Minister of Foreign Affairs, who 
wished to pick a quarrel with the United States, to throw away 
every conventional rag of decency as did Lord Russell, when 
the news of the Trent reached London; for by so doing he finally 
raised a formidable resistance at home, and he also brought out 
some of the strongest qualities of his antagonist, the American 

Law is only a formula of words which makes intelligible to 
mankind a movement of energy, and as the energy varies in 
power or direction, so does the law vary. The difficulty with 
which statesmen and judges always contend is that they have 
to guess, at any given moment, whether the law on which they 
rely is still vital, or whether it is dead and will give way beneath 

When Lord Palmerston and Lord Russell were young, the 
only law which England knew upon the ocean was her own will. 
If she wanted to do a thing, she did it, and her judges would 
declare the act, whatever it might be, to be lawful. If in 1793 
England wished to starve France, by severing her from her col- 
onies, the Government ordered the navy to capture all neutral 
ships loaded with French colonial produce bound to France and 
bring them home, where the judges condemned them under the 
"Rule of the War of 1756," as they called it. It was a phrase 
meaning that England chose to fight that way. If the British 
fleet happened to be short of seamen, the officers used the press 
on American ships as freely as they used it in their own ports. 
If an American captain resisted, they fired into him, as the 
Leopard fired into the Chesapeake during the very year in which 
Lord Palmerston first became a minister of the Crown. No 
American lawyer who had ever thumbed a Blackstone but knew 


that such outrages as that of Wilkes could be justified by plenty 
of British precedents, and that the worst of these precedents 
had been approved by American lawyers as eminent as Chief 
Justice Parsons of Massachusetts. The English lawyers knew 
these precedents quite as well as the American, and were in- 
clined when Lord Palmerston first consulted them to hesitate. 
That was not the way, however, in which ministers of the 
Waterloo generation liked to deal with lawyers. Lord Pal- 
merston ordered a satisfactory opinion, much as he might have 
ordered a pair of boots, and he got it in one of the most shame- 
less opinions that even English Crown Counsel had ever given 
on maritime law. It would have been well enough, they said, 
if Wilkes, when he took the Trent, had sent her into port for 
condemnation, but he committed a crime against England 
when he removed the men and let the ship go. 

Such considerations as these left Mr. Adams quite unmoved. 
He expected as much. Had not his grandfather tried the case 
of Michael Corbet for killing Lieutenant Panton while re- 
sisting a press gang on board the brig Pitt Packet, in old colonial 
days? l Had not his father, when on his way to St. Petersburg, 
in 1809, seen an English officer bo'ard the ship which carried 
him and his family, muster the hands on deck, and threaten 
to carry away a young sailor whom he knew to be an American? 
Could he not remember the negotiation of the treaty of Ghent, 
when England declined to give up any of her pretensions? 
To him the act of Wilkes, although quite indefensible, seemed 
to be not altogether unfortunate if it were but used wisely by 
the United States to force from England concessions on these 
vital points where she had always been unyielding. So when 
he heard the news suddenly, one day when visiting in the 
country, he remained perfectly composed, and waited for the re- 
sult. His attitude had the greatest effect in steadying the friends 
of the North in England, and enabling them to concentrate an 
opposition to extreme measures which in the end prevailed. 

One day when he and my mother were visiting Monckton 
Milnes at Fryston in Yorkshire, as they, with the other guests, 
were starting on some country expedition, he received a tele- 
gram with the news. Milnes was one of the few aristocrats 
who sympathized with the North, and he had invited William 

1 See Proceedings, xliv. 422. 


E. Forster, who, with Bright and Cobden, supported the United 
States in Parliament, to meet the Minister. On that occasion 
Milnes and Forster saw how my father bore a severe shock, and 
thenceforward their confidence never faltered. Had he wa- 
vered their position would have been untenable; how far after- 
ward they and their friends were prepared to venture is best 
proved by their actions. In the midst of the turmoil, on De- 
cember 5, when the Times and the Post, the organs of the 
Government, were lashing the public to frenzy, a great dinner 
was given to Bright at Rochdale, and there not only was a 
letter read from Cobden recalling the precedents of the Napo- 
leonic wars and insisting on forbearance, but Bright made one 
of his boldest speeches challenging the sincerity of the ministry 
and protesting against permitting "your newspapers or your 
public speakers . . . [to] bring you into that frame of mind 
under which your government, if it desires war, may be driven 
to engage in it." This was the policy which Lord Palmers ton 
and Lord Russell were pursuing, but it was one in which they 
could not afford to be exposed. 

Mr. Adams constantly referred in his diary to remarks made 
by Bright and others touching Lord Palmerston's loss of vigor, 
and I am inclined to think that, after the first explosion of pas- 
sion had spent itself, Palmerston concluded that it would be 
better for him not to push the Trent episode to an extremity, 
since he might accomplish the result he desired more easily. At 
this point in the American conflict Englishmen had not learned 
to judge accurately the relative strength of the combatants. 
They underestimated the North. They supposed that the 
only serious menace to the South lay in the blockade, and they 
imagined that the blockade might be as easily raised by a 
Southern fleet built in England and paid for by the South in 
cash, as by an English fleet which they would have to support 
themselves. There were in England abundance of men, like 
the Lairds, eager for this job, and English ministers did not 
as yet realize the difficulties into which they must fall while 
countenancing such frauds on the neutrality laws. When 
Wilkes boarded the Trent in November, 1861, the construction 
of a Southern navy was advancing fast in English dockyards, 
and although Mr. Adams did not collect evidence against the 
Florida specific enough to present until February, 1862, she 


was then ready for sea. She lay, it is true, a month longer in 
port, waiting for her officers; but as all the Liverpool officials 
were avowedly Southern sympathizers she ran no risk, and 
sailed without hindrance. Lord Russell treated Mr. Adams' 
complaints with something not very unlike contempt. 1 

As a scheme of war in disguise, the plan was good, but it 
soon proved to be impossible to execute without scandal, be- 
cause, as Mr. Adams pointed out, the duty of nations in amity 
was "not to suffer their good faith to be violated . . . merely 
from the insufficiency of their prohibitory policy." To build a 
Confederate navy in Great Britain presented to the Government 
an alternative; they might either neglect to put their neutrality 
laws in force, or they might have them construed away by the 
courts; but in either case they must perpetrate on the United 
States a fraud too flagrant to be safe with such an American 
minister in London as they began to suspect Mr. Adams to be. 
Hence I infer that Lord Palmerston decided to get rid of him. 
Not that Palmerston necessarily reached this conclusion con- 
sciously, for Palmerston, I apprehend, very often acted by in- 
stinct like an animal; but none the less I have no doubt that 
he purposed driving the American Minister out of England, and 
that in the spring of 1862 he was only looking for a pretext to 
pick a quarrel. Those who were best informed and who, on 
the spot, watched events most closely, thought so too. On 
January 25, 1865, Mr. Adams made this entry in his Diary: 
" Mr. Forster recalled the fact that two or three times during 
my stay, there had been efforts made to fix a quarrel upon 
me, which he intimated had been avoided mainly by my 
care. I applied his remark by recalling the incident of Lord 
Palmerston, as a most amusing one. On the whole Mr. 
Forster has been our firmest and most judicious friend. We 
owe to his tact and talent even more than we do to the more 
showy interference of Messrs. Cobden and Bright." 

On June 17, 1862, Mr. Adams came home late in the 
afternoon and found on his table the following letter from 
Lord Palmerston, marked " Confidential, " which is probably the 
most extraordinary document ever written even by him. It 
was on the subject of General Butler's proclamation touching 
the women of New Orleans. 

1 Earl Russell to Mr. Adams, March 27, 1862. 


Confidential. Brocket, ii June, 1862. 

My dear Sir, — I cannot refrain from taking the liberty of say- 
ing to you that it is difficult if not impossible to express adequately 
the disgust which must be excited in the mind of every honorable 
man by the general order of General Butler given in the inclosed ex- 
tract from yesterday's Times. Even when a town is taken by assault 
it is the practice of the Commander of the conquering army to protect 
to his utmost the inhabitants and especially the female part of them, 
and I will venture to say that no example can be found in the history 
of civilized nations till the publication of this order, of a general guilty 
in cold blood of so infamous an act as deliberately to hand over the 
female inhabitants of a conquered city to the unbridled license of an 
unrestrained soldiery. 

If the Federal Government chuses to be served by men capable 
of such revolting outrages, they must submit to abide by the de- 
served opinion which mankind will form of their conduct. My dear 
Sir, Yours faithfully, 


C. F. Adams Esqr. 

(Address: Private. His Excelcy Chas. F. Adams Esqr. 


The longer Mr. Adams considered this letter, the more he 
suspected that it covered some unfriendly purpose, such as a 
joint intervention with France, of which rumors were abroad; 
but at all events Palmerston meant mischief, and the only way 
to escape him was to silence him. The next day he explained 
to Mr. Seward what he proposed to do. "It strikes me that 
he has by his precipitation already put himself in the wrong, 
and I hope to be able to keep him there;" but, he added, 
"the responsibility, thus unexpectedly thrown upon me, is 
felt to be of the most serious character." In after years he 
was rather fond of talking with me of this episode, and I 
received the impression that secretly he felt more satisfaction 
at his success than at almost any incident of his public life, 
for he had no liking for Palmerston. But whether this be so 
or not, he extricated himself from his predicament with won- 
derful adroitness. On June 13 he answered, telling Lord 
Palmerston plainly that he doubted whether he ought to re- 
ceive such a letter, but before deciding he must know whether 
Lord Palmerston wrote as Prime Minister, or as a private gen- 
tleman expressing an individual opinion. Then he went to 



Earl Russell and asked him what his colleague meant. Russell 
did not know. Meanwhile Lord Palmerston appears to have 
been at a loss. He waited until the 15 th, and then wrote a few 
platitudes, without answering the question. Mr. Adams re- 
joined that he was " quite certain" that his government did not 
send him to London "to entertain any discussions of this kind," 
and that he could not submit "under the seal of privacy" to 
"any indignity which it might be the disposition of the servants 
of any" foreign "sovereign, however exalted," to offer. There- 
fore he wished to ask again whether Lord Palmerston's first 
note was official, or simply "a private communication of sen- 
timent between gentlemen." Thus driven to bay, Palmer- 
ston, on the 19th, admitted, in a long letter of justification, 
that he had spoken as Prime Minister. Then my father 
closed the correspondence in these words: "The difficulties 
in the way of this anomalous form of proceeding seem to me 
to be so grave ... as to make it my painful duty to say to 
your Lordship that I must hereafter, so long as I remain 
here in a public capacity, decline to entertain any similar 
correspondence." x 

If in Europe there was one public man more hated and 
feared by diplomats than another, it was Viscount Palmerston. 
When old Baron Brunnow, the Russian Ambassador in London, 
talked about Palmerston, he grew warm. It chanced that on 
the day after Palmerston's assault on Mr. Adams, which was, 
of course, still a secret, Brunnow met Mr. Adams in the ante- 
chamber of the Foreign Office and told him of his own troubles 
before the Crimean War. How Palmerston never spoke the 
truth, which, perhaps, was admissible; but how he would set 
traps for the unwary, in order to increase his popularity in the 
House of Commons by immolating his victims. How life became 
one long martyrdom, and how retort was futile, because Palmer- 
ston had the "hide of a rhinoceros." Mr. Adams, at least, had 
warning of his danger. 

For once in his life Lord Palmerston felt that his hide had 
been pierced. He had no longer the nerve to face John Bright 
in debate on such an issue, so he dropped the controversy, but 
characteristically he bore no malice. The next year my father 
met him in public and offered his hand. Lord Palmerston took 
1 The letters are printed in Adams, Charles Francis Adams, 248-260. 


it, and shortly afterward Lady Palmerston asked my mother 
to come again to her receptions. The invitation was accepted. 
There was no scandal, and Mr. Adams remained in London to 
watch the building of the Confederate navy. 

His last letter to Lord Palmerston was dated June 20, 1862; 
his first to Earl Russell touching the Alabama was written on 
June 23. It was the experience of the Florida over again. Mr. 
Dudley, the American consul at Liverpool, sent the Minister 
most explicit affidavits which he enclosed to the Foreign Office. 
The Foreign Office sent them to the Law Officers of the Crown, 
and on their advice transmitted them to the Commissioners of 
Customs at Liverpool, who, in turn, referred "the matter to, 
our solicitor, [who] has reported his opinion that, at present, 
there is not sufficient ground to warrant the detention of the 
vessel, or any interference on the part of this department, in 
which report we beg to express our concurrence." As it was 
notorious that all these Liverpool officials were in substantial 
collusion with the Confederates, the situation seemed desperate; 
but, as a last resource, Mr. Adams took the opinion of Mr. 
Robert Collier, 1 a member of Parliament and one of the most 
eminent counsel at the bar. Mr. Collier having considered the 
evidence advised the Legation that the Collector of Customs 
at Liverpool would incur "a heavy responsibility' if he did not 
seize the vessel, and that if the Foreign Enlistment Act were 
not enforced on that occasion it was but "a dead letter." He 
added that, if the ship escaped, the Federal Government might 
have "serious grounds of remonstrance." This advice of Mr. 
Collier did not move Mr. O'Dowd, the Assistant Solicitor of 
Customs at Liverpool; it, however, disturbed Lord Russell, 
who sent it marked "Urgent" to the Law Officers of the Crown. 
Then followed a delay of three days, which has never been well, 
accounted for, but which was momentous, not only because it 
was afterward held to fix negligence upon Great Britain, but 
because what occurred in the interval showed, as Semmes 
boasted, that the Lairds at Liverpool were better informed of 
the secret thoughts and actions of the 'highest officials than were 
those officials informed of one another. 2 The biographer of 

1 Robert Porrett Collier, Lord Monkswell (18 17-1886). 

2 On December 22, 1865, the following entry occurs in Mr. Adams' Diary: 
"Incidentally he [Mr. Moran, Secretary of Legation] told me that he had also 


Lord John Russell has told how, "almost while Sir Roundell 
Palmer and Sir William Atherton were considering the papers," 
the Alabama left her dock, 1 so that the adverse decision must 
have been betrayed before it could have been drafted, and how 
the next morning, July 29, 1862, she steamed down the Mersey 
on a pretended trial trip, while the opinion was on its way to 
Downing Street. Still the situation was not irretrievable. The 
Alabama might be stopped in a colonial port, and the Duke of 
Argyll advised Lord Russell to seize her. Lord Russell felt 
disposed to follow this advice and submitted an order to the 
Cabinet. The Duke has told what followed: "When you 
brought it before the Cabinet there was a perfect insurrection. 
Everybody but you and I were against the proposed step. 
Bethell was vehement against its 'legality,' and you gave it up." 2 
Mr. Adams always inclined to regard Lord John Russell as 
an honest man, and he may have been right; but as much 
could not be said of Bethell, who was Lord John's evil genius, 
and who finally contrived to put the ministry in a position in 
which it could only defend its integrity by admitting its imbe- 
cility. Apparently, until he pondered upon Collier's opinion, 
Earl Russell never appreciated what his position would be, 
should he have to defend himself against John Bright on the 
charge of having been privy to a conspiracy to build a Confed- 
erate navy in Great Britain in fraud of the neutrality laws. 
Gladstone, who was not directly responsible for the conduct 
of foreign affairs, might not shrink from such shame if he 
thought it profitable to himself; but Lord John had a certain 
instinct of honor which, at least in the long run, revolted against 
secret treachery. And in this Lord Russell did not stand alone. 
After experiment with a system of fraudulent neutrality not 
only Lord Russell, but Lord Palmerston and, to do him jus- 
tice, Gladstone himself, together with most of the aristoc- 
racy, would have preferred an open war, if only an open war 
had not been, as they thought, so dangerous. In their minds 
all turned upon the power of the North, in combination with 

been able to trace the source of the betrayal of the decision of the Government 
which prompted the sudden escape of the Alabama. He showed me what pur- 
ported to be a copy of a short note signed by V. Buckley and addressed to Mr. 
[Caleb] Huse, the rebel agent, warning him that what he called his 'protege^ 
was in danger. This Victor Buckley is a young clerk in the Foreign Office." 
1 Walpole, Life of Lord John Russell, 11. 354. 2 lb. 11. 355, note. 


native radicals, to injure them, and they looked longingly for 
the moment when the North should sink low enough to be treated 
as a negligible enemy by men who had no stomach for a do- 
mestic broil. The exact order in which events followed each 
other during the next few months is therefore illuminating, 
for it throws into brilliant relief not only the differences in 
temperament among these three famous aristocratic states- 
men, Lord Palmerston, Lord Russell and Mr. Gladstone, but 
it fixes the stage of decrepitude to which their class had 

The Alabama sailed from Liverpool on July 29, 1862, just 
after McClellan's reverses in the Peninsula, and on September 
14 London heard the news of the Second Battle of Bull Run. 
Taking these disasters together, it seemed, in Europe, as prob- 
able that the North had been overcome, and Lord Palmerston 
inclined to think that Washington must fall. On this supposi- 
tion he wrote to Lord Russell that it might be judicious "to 
recommend an arrangement upon the basis of separation." 
Lord Russell waited a few days to see what would happen, 
and then replied that "whether the Federal army is destroyed 
or not," Great Britain should "recognise the Southern States 
as an independent State," and should arm Canada accordingly. 

In September, 1862, the Northern fortunes fell to their 
lowest point, and, conversely, the aggressive temper of Eng- 
land culminated. Lord Palmerston's view fluctuated with the 
fluctuation of the war, like a barometer. Lord Russell showed 
less sensitiveness. Gladstone blundered. Gladstone so hungered 
to be Prime Minister forthwith that he tried to be conser- 
vative and radical at once. On September 17 McClellan won 
the victory of An tie tarn. Instantly, while Lord Palmerston 
cooled, Lord Russell took to equivocation, and Gladstone 
plunged forward, blatant. It mattered nothing to Gladstone 
what horse he rode provided he could win the stakes, but even 
Gladstone could not ride two horses, galloping in opposite 
directions, at the same time. The northern counties favored 
the radicals and the United States, and just at this time Glad- 
stone, who was by way of posing as an advanced liberal and 
friend of the people and of economy, was invited to make a 
sort of triumphal progress through parts of Northumberland, 
Durham and Yorkshire. He was to begin with a great reception 


at Newcastle on October 7, because, as his biographer has ob- 
served, "a sure instinct had revealed an accent in his eloquence 
that spoke of feeling for the common people." x 

The " common people " had rejoiced so much over the news 
of Antietam, then about a week old, that Lord Palmerston had 
made up his mind to wait awhile before committing himself 
further. 2 Not so Mr. Gladstone, who thought he had his oppor- 
tunity to score double. After .reflecting profoundly on his way 
to Newcastle on what he should say " about Lancashire, and 
America," he decided that the tide for the South was at flood 
and that he would swim with it. In this mind he made a speech 
in the Newcastle town hall which must always rank as one of 
the most remarkable of his life. He said: "We know quite 
well that the people of the Northern States have not yet drunk 
of the cup, . . . which all the rest of the world see they never- 
theless must drink of. We may have our own opinions about 
slavery; we may be for or against the South; but there is no 
doubt that Jefferson Davis and the other leaders of the South 
have made an army; they are making, it appears, a navy; and 
they have made what is more than either, they have made a 

Hardly two months had elapsed since Earl Russell had him- 
self admitted, by ordering the arrest of the Alabama, that the 
navy of the South was an English navy, built against the most 
sacred obligations which one country can be under toward an- 
other. At Newcastle Mr. Gladstone glorified this breach of 
faith, and thus in substance announced himself in favor of an 
alliance with the South. Language by a minister, before a 
declaration of war, could hardly go further. 

The speech made a prodigious sensation, but it was soon seen 
to be a mistake. Gladstone felt it to have been one with grow- 
ing acuteness for many a long day. In a kind of public confes- 
sion of his sins he afterward admitted that he had committed 
an "offence of incredible grossness." His excuse was twofold: 
first, that he must have been out of his senses at Newcastle, 
and, second, that Lord Palmerston "desired the severance [of 
the Union] as a diminution of a dangerous power." This, 
Gladstone protested, was a worse crime than his, only Lord 

1 Morley, Life of Gladstone, n. 77. 

2 Walpole, Life of Lord John Russell, 11. 351. 


Palmerston "prudently held his tongue." 1 Prudence was not 
Gladstone's strongest quality. 

Lord Palmerston disliked Mr. Gladstone and disagreed with 
him on almost every subject, from his views on the suffrage, 
to his eternal preaching of economy and his sympathy with the 
downtrodden tax-payer. The Prime Minister was constantly 
lecturing his obstreperous Chancellor of the Exchequer on his 
errors, and he very willingly, therefore, took so excellent an 
opportunity to give him a lesson which he would remember. 
The next week he sent Sir George Cornewall Lewis to Here- 
ford to correct Mr. Gladstone's notions of international law, 
and to make it clear that the Cabinet, as a whole, had no sym- 
pathy with them. Then Mr. Gladstone began to disclaim, and 
he continued explaining and disclaiming until he died. 2 

Meanwhile the proposition which Lord Palmerston had 
made to Lord Russell touching intervention remained to come 
before the Cabinet, and on October 2, in reply to a letter from 
Earl Russell, Lord Palmerston wrote that had the South con- 
tinued its successes against the North, mediation might have 
been opportune, but that recently those successes had been 
checked. Therefore it would be wiser to wait. This was just 
before Gladstone's speech. On October 13 Lord Russell had 
not changed his mind, however much Lord Palmerston may 
have vacillated. On that day he circulated a confidential 
memorandum among the Cabinet rather urging the "duty" of 
"friendly and conciliatory" interposition. On October 23 the 
Cabinet met to consider this memorandum, but that day Lord 
Palmerston's opinion prevailed, and nothing was done. 

At length Mr. Adams, thinking that he ought to take some 
notice of Mr. Gladstone's harangue, and being very anxious 
beside to know what it meant, asked Lord Russell to appoint 
an hour at which he might see him at the Foreign Office. Lord 
Russell named October 23, the very day of the meeting, and it 
is charitable to suppose that he fixed on a time after the meet- 
ing had adjourned in order that he might be able to speak 
definitely touching the future. Certainly the Secretary for 
Foreign Affairs distinctly told the American Minister that no 
change in England's policy of neutrality was contemplated, 

1 Morley, Life of Gladstone, 11. 82. 

2 See C. F. Adams, Studies: Military and Diplomatic, 407. 


either by Mr. Gladstone or by anybody else, for the immediate 
future, and Mr. Adams seems to have thought his manner 
conciliatory. Yet, when he gave this assurance, Lord Russell 
had decided not to drop his project of intervention. By some 
means a hint was conveyed to the French Emperor that an offer 
by him to co-operate in intervention with England might be 
opportune, and Napoleon made such an offer forthwith. This 
gratified Mr. Gladstone, but even with this help he doubted 
whether he could overcome the inertia of his colleagues. He 
had already recognized the failure of his Newcastle speech. 
The event justified his premonitions. The decisive test of 
strength fell on November 12. The day before Gladstone 
wrote home that both "Lords Palmerston and Russell are 
right" and yet he still doubted. On November 13 he recorded 
his defeat, and explained how Lord Russell had " turned tail" 
without " fighting out his battle," and how Lord Palmerston 
had given Lord Russell's proposal only "a feeble and half- 
hearted support." l Thus Lord Palmerston, who, more than 
any living man, incarnated the spirit of his class, appeared at 
this supreme moment, like Macbeth, letting "'I dare not' 
wait upon 'I would,' " while Lord John justified his reputation 
for duplicity, and Gladstone, for the first time, fathomed the 
impotence of his own order. From that day Gladstone had 
done with doubts and threw his lot with the radicals. And 
Gladstone was right; for an aristocracy which recoiled from 
stabbing democracy when democracy lay gasping, was 

Nor did Gladstone stand alone in recognizing that the onset 
of the English aristocracy had collapsed with the repulse of 
Lee at Antietam. By a subtle instinct all Europe and America 
became conscious of a change of status. It was the United 
States now which pressed on England, not England on the 
United States. The dates fit with an astonishing precision. 
Hitherto Mr. Adams' work had been chiefly defensive, as in 
the affair of the Trent. He had indeed made energetic remon- 
strances in regard to the escape of both the Florida and the 
Alabama, but in neither case had he gone so far as to put a 
pressure, even verging on coercion, upon England to do her 
duty. He reached that point on the day when Great Britain 
1 Morley, Life of Gladstone, 11. 85. 


admitted to herself that she dared not strike the North after 
a victory. 

On November 12, according to Gladstone, Lord Russell 
"turned tail," and Lord Palmers ton flinched with him. On 
November 20, 1862, Mr. Adams, who knew nothing of what had 
gone on within the Cabinet, wrote to Earl Russell a powerful 
despatch, in which, while disclaiming an intention to imply that 
Her Majesty's Government countenanced the violation of her 
laws, he pointed out that the Alabama had been built, armed 
and manned by Englishmen; that, though the purpose for 
which she was designed was well known, she had been permitted 
to sail without any of the usual formalities; and that since 
she had not been seized. If this were to go on, he said, peace 
between neighboring countries " would be rendered by it al- 
most impracticable." Therefore he demanded, in the name of 
his Government, redress for past injuries and protection for 
the future. 

Earl Russell reflected upon this letter for a month and then 
replied that, so far as the past was concerned, as he had done 
his best under the law as the law was interpreted by the Coun- 
sel for the Crown, he could not admit the right of any foreign 
sovereign to call him to account. Imperfections in a municipal 
statute were not matters open to discussion. Therefore he 
declined to entertain claims for compensation for injuries 
consequent on the escape of the Alabama, but, touching the 
future, he made concessions. He admitted frankly that the 
"Government, after consultation with the Law Officers of 
the Crown, are of opinion that certain amendments might 
be introduced into the Foreign Enlistment Act, which . . . 
would have the effect of giving greater power to the Execu- 
tive to prevent the construction, in British ports, of ships 
destined for the use of belligerents." Before, however, sub- 
mitting such amendments to Parliament, Earl Russell pro- 
posed that my father should ascertain whether the United 
States would make similar alterations in their law, so that 
the changes might "proceed pari passu in both countries." 

Without question when Lord Russell made this proposition 
he was sincere, but when he tried to carry it into effect he found 
himself as impotent as he had been when he tried to induce 
intervention. His letter to Mr. Adams offering to amend th? 



law was dated December 19, 1862, but on February 14, 1863, 
he wrote to Lord Lyons that the project of amending the For- 
eign Enlistment Act had been abandoned, as the Cabinet did 
not see how the "law on this subject could be improved." To' 
the end of his life Lord Russell never seems to have understood 
what ailed the world in his latter days. He protested and prob- 
ably believed that he had always intended to do right. In real- 
ity he was the victim of a condition of social dissolution which 
brought the lawyers forward, at whose head stood Lord Westbury . 

Very uniformly, when a ruling class is tottering and no longer 
dares to use physical force, it seeks aid from the courts, and in 
1863 the English aristocracy obeyed this general law. Not 
venturing upon an open war with America for fear of trouble 
at home, they resorted to fraud to compass their object, and to 
work a fraud upon their own laws they had to call in the law- 
yers. Thus, from the hour when Great Britain definitely aban- 
doned the offensive, Mr. Adams found himself pitted against 
Lord Westbury in particular, and the bench and bar of England 
in general. In this field Mr. Adams fared well enough, but 
Lord Russell fared ill, for Earl Russell had no training as a 
lawyer and was always committing indiscretions. He began 
with one of the worst. 

On March 26, 1863, Mr. Adams told Earl Russell that 
" England was at war with the United States, while the United 
States were not at war with England," and then pressed on him 
this alternative; either the law is "sufficient . . . and then let 
the British Government enforce it; or it is insufficient, and then 
let the British Government apply to Parliament to amend it. 

"I said that the Cabinet were of opinion that the law was 
sufficient. . . . That the British Government had done every- 
thing in its power to execute the law; but I admitted that the 
cases of the Alabama and Oreto were a scandal, and in some 
degree a reproach to our laws." l 

After this admission the Foreign Office could not refuse to 
test the efficiency of the Foreign Enlistment Act, which the 
Cabinet had declined to amend on the authority of Lord West- 
bury, who advised them that it was enough. 2 On March 30, 
1863, four days after this interview, Mr. Adams denounced the 

1 Lord Russell to Lord Lyons, March 27, 1863. 

2 Adams to Seward, February 13, 1863. 


Alexandra. Lord Russell laid the evidence before the Law 
Officers of the Crown, and on April 4 he received an opinion, 
based on the decision of the Supreme Court of the United 
States in United States v. Quincy, 6 Peters, 448, that the Alex- 
andra should be seized under the Foreign Enlistment Act. 
And seized she accordingly was the very next day. The issue 
had now been narrowed to this: Could Mr. Adams goad the 
British Government into protecting the United States either 
with or without the sanction of law; or would the gentry so far 
succeed in paralyzing the law, and in preventing the Govern- 
ment from overstepping it, that war would follow from inertia? 
This issue had to be fought out primarily in the courts, and, as 
the crisis approached, no Southern sympathizer, who respected 
his political standing, cared to make himself conspicuous in the 
parliamentary arena. John Bright awed the House of Commons, 
and beyond the precincts of Westminster matters had gone 
ill with those who had interfered. Lord Palmerston had made 
a sally, and in one short day had had enough; Earl Russell, 
with his moral garments in tatters, as he himself admitted by 
describing his administration as a scandal, was trying to cover 
his reputation with the shreds that remained; while Glad- 
Stone, the greatest orator which the gentry produced during the 
nineteenth century, had so exposed himself at Newcastle that 
his own chief had turned and rent him. All were dumb. A 
situation could hardly have been graver, and at this juncture 
Lord Westbury's influence predominated. To this several 
causes contributed. Not only was the Chancellor the official 
adviser of his colleagues upon the law, but his range of activity 
was wide. He could intrigue in the Cabinet and in Parliament, 
with the bench and the bar, and in intrigue Lord Westbury had 
few rivals. Whatever Lord Westbury's motives may have 
been, had he been regularly retained to emasculate the English 
neutrality laws, he could hardly have worked harder or more 
insidiously, while advancing to a predetermined end by a series 
of premeditated steps. He first suppressed the Duke of Ar- 
gyll's proposal to arrest the Alabama in the colonies, he next 
prevented the amendment of the Foreign Enlistment Act, 
although the Law Officers of the Crown had advised it, 1 and 

. } Earl Russell to Mr. Adams, December 19, 1862. Adams to Seward, February 
13, 1863. 


lastly he evolved a subtle legal theory with the apparent pur- 
pose not only of absolving Great Britain from responsibility for 
any abuse, however flagrant, of her territory by the Confederacy, 
but for preventing her from submitting to arbitration any 
claims for reparation for the injury which the United States 
might endure thereby. According to Lord Westbury the whole 
question hinged not on what men did, but on what they thought. 
This was his celebrated doctrine of animus. British subjects 
might build, equip, arm and man fleets of cruisers, and send 
them to sea to be sold to the South for purposes of war, if it 
could not be proved that in such transactions these English- 
men had acted as agents of the South, and not as speculators. 
If they speculated in battleships as merchants, without pre- 
existing contracts which made them agents, all was lawful. 
By parity of reasoning, Great Britain had no responsibility 
for her legislation or for her police beyond that of defending the 
good faith of her ministers. 

Great Britain, acting as a neutral, might be mistaken, she 
might be remiss, she might do what she should not have done, 
or she might neglect to do what she should have done, — this 
was immaterial. The only question between the nations was, 
"whether, from beginning to end," Great Britain "had acted 
with sincerity." He pressed this doctrine in his speeches in 
Parliament, and he laid it down from the bench. 1 

The inference is almost resistless that Lord Westbury in- 
tended not only to legalize the grossest of all frauds by encour- 
aging the perversion of evidence, as the Chief Baron of the 
Exchequer afterward pointed out, but also to make the sub- 
mission to arbitration of claims arising from such frauds prac- 
tically impossible. Bethell was a singularly astute modern man, 
who could hardly have failed to perceive from the beginning 
whither his reasoning led, nor did he shrink from following that 
reasoning to the end. In 1869 Mr. Sumner relied on him as an 
authority for his law when he originated the "indirect claims "; 
so did Mr. Davis at Geneva. But Lord John Russell was 
another matter. Lord John, whose mind was never one of 
the most lucid, and who was beside a relic of a bygone age, 
saw nothing absurd in declaring categorically, first, that Eng- 

1 Hansard, Parliamentary Debates, Third Series, cxci. 347, 348. Ex parte 
Chavasse, 12 Law Times, New Series, 249. 


land alone must be the judge of her domestic legislation; of 
then alleging, as an excuse for not arresting pirates fitting 
in English ports, that he had no power to do so under 
English statutes; and finally of refusing compensation for 
the injury those pirates wrought on a friendly people, be- 
cause he could not allow the good faith or the good conduct of 
English ministers, or the competence of English lawyers, to be 
impugned by a foreign nation. Yet, according to Westbury, 
the good faith of Lord Russell and of Sir Roundell Palmer 
was the only vital matter in issue. 

Surely no one in modern times, save a British aristocrat of 
the Waterloo generation, could have been capable of such 

It is nothing to the purpose that his arrogance escaped Earl 
Russell, or that he failed to understand how he had come 
into a position where he had to be arrogant to defend him- 
self against a criminal accusation. Earl Russell was an old 
man who had been born and bred in an atmosphere in 
which arrogance toward foreigners was as natural as it was 
in 1 86 1 in a Southern planter toward blacks. The fact re- 
mains that, but for Bethell, Earl Russell could not have been 
accused of fraud. 

When the Alabama escaped through what even Earl Russell, 
toward the close of his life, admitted to have been his own 
slackness, he would have atoned for his fault by seizing her in 
the colonies, but Bethell stopped him. When Mr. Adams urged 
him to amend a statute under which such outrages as the escape 
of the Alabama could be perpetrated, he assented, and would 
have brought a bill into Parliament to strengthen the Foreign 
Enlistment Act, but Bethell interposed. Lastly, when it came 
to submitting the claims of the United States to arbitration, 
Earl Russell found himself confronted with Lord Westbury's 
doctrine, that the only matter in issue was his own honesty. 
That was why due diligence and good faith and honesty were 
always confounded in his mind. 

Such was Lord Westbury, brought forward by the decay of 
the aristocracy to a position of leadership in their contest with 
democracy; nor in all England, perhaps, could a man of equal 
parts have been found less apt to lead with credit. Unhappily 
for them, also, the aristocracy were hardly more discreetly 


served by those common law judges on whom they relied to ma- 
nipulate the law to meet their necessities. 

Among the survivals of an arrogant age, one of the stiffest in 
the year 1863 was Sir Frederick Pollock, Lord Chief Baron of 
the Exchequer. Although Sir Frederick did not spring from 
noble lineage like Lord John, he was more reactionary, having 
entered Parliament in the Tory interest, and having served as 
Sir Robert Peel's Attorney- General, whereas Lord John had 
been a Whig from birth. Sir Frederick was a year older than 
Lord Palmerston, and was turned of eighty when on June 22, 
1863, he sat with a jury to hear the case of the Alexandra, 
Lord Selborne, who represented the Government in the prosecu- 
tion, first as Solicitor, and afterward as Attorney- General, has 
hinted that Pollock's mind had become impaired, 1 and perhaps 
it is charitable to assume that his memory had failed, for the 
choice lies between this and suspecting that he tried deliber- 
ately to falsify the record. Still, it must be conceded that, in 
the contest which ensued between him and Sir Roundell, he 
showed no feebleness but, on the contrary, routed his antag- 
onist. Throughout the American war the rock on which the 
British aristocratic party, both political and legal, split, was 
incoherence. As Lord Palmerston's Cabinet never could unite 
on any aggressive policy, so neither could the lawyers unite on 
any theory touching the law. In this cause Pollock fell foul of 
Bethell, denouncing his doctrine of animus as fraudulent, and 
he did so, apparently, only to save himself from discredit by 
discrediting the Government, when both wished to suppress 
the North. 

I think it probable, from what subsequently occurred, that 
during the litigation Westbury may have explained to Pollock 
his theory of animus. I am inclined to this surmise because of 
Pollock's familiarity with notions which he would have been 
unlikely to originate, and which he stated in language para- 
phrasing that used by Lord Westbury afterward in Ex parte 

Be this as it may, Pollock's conduct at this trial created a 
scandal which at the time almost equalled the scandal of the 
escape of the Alabama, and increased very sensibly that exces- 
sive weakness of the Palmerston Government which during 
1 Memorials, Family and Personal, 11. 446. 


the winter of 1864 threatened to induce war through simple 
inertia. This was, of course, what Southerners themselves and 
the more extreme of their sympathizers in England wanted, 
but it was a result which could only be attained by a prostitu- 
tion of the courts, and a degradation alike of bench and bar. 
Nothing could be plainer than the issue between the two coun- 
tries, as Sir Roundell Palmer himself presented it in this very 
cause : 

If there be a war, in which, though the Sovereign of Great Britain 
professes neutrality, yet a great number of the subjects act in a 
manner directly contrary to it, . . . by organizing naval equipments, 
it is perfectly plain that the result will be this : a state of things will 
be produced which alters the balance of power practically, . . . 
something is done which throws a power from the neutral country 
into the scale of one of the belligerents against the other, and which 
makes the belligerent who suffers by it say, I care not what your 
Vattel, or Grotius, or Puffendorf may say; I find that I am practi- 
cally suffering from this, ... so that it is better worth my while 
to go to war with you too, and to have it out openly, than allow 
this state of things to go on. 

The Attorney- General then supposed a war between Eng- 
land and France, with the United States neutral and fit- 
ting out naval expeditions for France, and suggested that 
possibly, the United States being powerful, England might 

But it might, I think, be quite conceivable and possible that we 
in that case, as we, I think, have done in all similar cases in the 
course of our history, might say: We will not endure it, and if this 
goes on, we will rather go to war with you than let war be carried 
on practically against us from your shores under pretence of neu- 
trality. That we should do that with a weak power like Sweden, can 
any human being entertain a doubt? These are the dangers that 
have to be provided against. 

Such bluntness shocked the morals of Sir Frederick, who 
could not tolerate, in his court, that counsel should suggest that 
England had ever done that to a weak power which she would 
not do to a strong. So he scolded Sir Roundell. And yet Sir 
Frederick knew as well as any other man that, for centuries 
before the war of Secession, Great Britain, as a belligerent, had 


ruthlessly trampled upon all weak neutrals, sometimes seizing 
their commerce like a common pirate, sometimes firing on their 
frigates and taking from them their crews, sometimes blockad- 
ing their harbors, and sometimes burning their capital cities. 
In short, there was no outrage on the weak which Great Britain 
had not gloried in perpetrating, and she reached the acme of her 
violence in the wars of the French Revolution and of the First 
Empire, which began soon after the adoption of the Constitu- 
tion of the United States in 1789. During those wars the feeble 
republic of the United States suffered much from both France 
and England, and it had devolved upon General Washington 
to hold the balance between the two. As General Washington's 
Secretary of State, Mr. Jefferson conducted a correspond- 
ence on neutrality which ever afterward ranked as a classic, 
and, for a full generation after its foundation, the Supreme 
Court of the United States had been deeply engaged in consid- 
ering the law upon this class of questions, so that when Sir 
Frederick came to expound the Foreign Enlistment Act, in the 
trial of the Alexandra, the American authorities were recog- 
nized as the standard. Of British authorities on neutrality 
there were few or none. 

It followed that when English judges like Bethell and Pol- 
lock, in serving the aristocracy, undertook to emasculate the 
Foreign Enlistment Act, their first anxiety was to explain away 
these American authorities. This they might possibly have 
done without too much ignominy, had they taken care before- 
hand to agree upon some theory of construction. Instead of 
doing so they quarrelled, with the result that finally Sir Frederick 
roundly accused those who followed Lord Westbury's doctrine 
of trying to perpetrate a fraud, while the Law Officers of the 
Crown more than intimated that Sir Frederick had deceived 
them by direct falsehood. 

On these facts there can be no dispute, as they are all matters 
of record; nor can there be any dispute as to the character of 
the measures taken by Lord Westbury to prevent the amend- 
ment of the Foreign Enlistment Act. The Lord Chancellor of 
England declared the Foreign Enlistment Act sufficient, at 
the moment when the Chief Baron of the Exchequer stated 
from the bench, that, were the statute construed as Lord West- 
bury would construe it, a fleet of ships might be sailed through 


it. And it was by denouncing the Lord Chancellor's construc- 
tion as fraudulent, that the Chief Baron defended the libera- 
tion of the Alexandra. That the wrangle was disgraceful 
was shortly admitted by the English Parliament and by the 
English people, as one of the first acts of the Conservatives on 
attaining to power was, in January, 1867, to appoint a com- 
mission to so revise the law touching neutrality, that such 
scandals could not occur in future. To make all this clear, 
I must go at large into the Alexandra litigation. 

When the long wars began and Washington issued his proc- 
lamation of neutrality, it was universally accepted as an axiom, 
that if, when two nations are at war, a third assists one, by par- 
ticipation in hostilities, to the detriment of the other, that third 
nation becomes a party to the conflict, and may be treated as 
an enemy by the country which is aggrieved. The principle 
was plain; the difficulty lay in defining what acts constituted 
a participation in hostilities. With this class of questions 
Washington and Jefferson had endless difficulties; for they soon 
found that neutrals, like other people, must live, and to live 
must trade, and that all trade would be substantially cut off if 
giving aid to one belligerent were to participate in hostilities. 
For example, no aid can be more effective than food and muni- 
tions of war. But to neutrals perhaps the most tempting of 
all branches of trade was trade in munitions of war, which the 
belligerents often had to buy regardless of price. This had al- 
ways been so, and had been recognized as 1 git'mate within 
certain limits, ever since the Venetians sold material of war to 
the Saracens to use against the Crusaders, although that par- 
ticular commercial enterprise the Church had denounced as 

On the other hand, the belligerent, who suffered from these 
sales, claimed the right to seize the so-called contraband of war, 
wherever he could find it in transit, and thus, at last, the United 
States found themselves obliged to draw a line between a com- 
mercial venture in material of war, which was not a breach of 
neutrality and therefore innocent, and an armed participation 
in the war by her citizens, which was a crime. For instance, it 
being admitted that American citizens might sell arms and 
gunpowder to a belligerent, and also a ship, provided the ship 
were a merchantman, was it or was it not legitimate for an 



American to build and arm a ship, and sell it as a speculation 
to a belligerent, knowing that the ship, if sold, would be used to 
cruise against the commerce of a friendly* power? Or, putting 
it in other words, was a cruiser sent to a belligerent contraband 
of war, whose sale the Government might countenance, or was 
the escape of such a ship from an American port a breach of 
neutrality? As a rule both the American diplomatic correspond- 
ence touching neutrality, and the rulings of the American 
courts, were remarkably sound; but on one occasion Mr. Jus- 
tice Story indulged his love of writing legal treatises instead of 
legal opinions, not only to the inconvenience of Mr. Adams, but 
to the mortal peril of the United States. Justice Story provided 
Lord Westbury and Sir Frederick Pollock with their best argu- 
ment, and also with the weapon with which they did most of 
their mischief. 

After the peace at Ghent in 1814, a certain American priva- 
teer, named the Monmouth, had been dismantled at Baltimore, 
and having been rerigged and partially rearmed was sent by 
her owner, loaded with contraband of war, to Buenos Ayres, to 
be sold, if possible, to the Government of that revolted colony, 
in her war of independence against Spain. The Spaniards, 
afterward, did not deny that the sending of this ship from Bal- 
timore to South America was a genuine commercial specula- 
tion, made without previous contract or understanding with the 
insurgent Government. In Buenos Ayres the supercargo made 
a bargain, and, having sold the ship to the Government of 
Buenos Ayres, made no objection to the reinlistment of the 
crew, and to her return to Baltimore to add to her armament 
and to obtain more men. Having done this, she sailed again 
from Baltimore as a commissioned ship of war belonging to 
Buenos Ayres, named Independencia, to capture Spanish mer- 
chantmen, and among those which she captured was the San- 
tissima Trinidad, which she took into Norfolk. There the 
Spanish Consul began suit for restitution of prize on two 
grounds: first, because the Independencia had originally es- 
caped from Baltimore in violation of the neutrality of the 
United States; and, secondly, because, after her return to Bal- 
timore and before her capture of the Trinidad, she had unlaw- 
fully augmented her armament. The court decreed restitution 
on the second ground, as being clearly established, and had 


Story confined himself to the point in issue, all would have been 
well. But so simple a disposition of an interesting case did not 
content the learned justice. He went into a discussion to show 
that originally the Monmouth had been sent to Buenos Ay res 
not as a cruiser intended to participate in the war, but as a 
commercial venture, — an article to be sold, in a word, like any 
other munition of war: that, in fine, she was contraband of 
war, and that therefore her first departure was innocent, so far 
as any violation of United States statutes was concerned. 

The question as to the original illegal armament and outfit of the 
Independencia [that is to say, of the old American privateer, the 
Monmouth] may be dismissed in a few words. It is apparent that, 
though equipped as a vessel of war, she was sent to Buenos Ayres 
on a commercial adventure, contraband, indeed, but in no shape 
violating our laws or our national neutrality. If captured by a 
Spanish ship-of-war during the voyage, she would have been justly 
condemnable as good prize, for being engaged in a traffic prohibited 
by the law of nations. But there is nothing in our laws, or in the 
law of nations, that forbids our citizens from sending armed vessels, 
as well as munitions of war, to foreign ports for sale. 1 

The British statute of 18 19, for the preservation of neutrality, 
was founded on, and was, in substance, the same as the Ameri- 
can statute of 18 1 8, so that an interpretation of the one would 
generally fit the other, and the British enactment forbade any 
subject either "to equip, furnish, fit out or arm," or to procure 
or assist in the equipping or arming, of any vessel "with intent 
to cruise or commit hostilities against any . . . State . . . with 
whom His Majesty shall not then be at war." Under such a 
statute the first point to determine was whether a ship of war 
could be built by a neutral and sold to a belligerent at all, and 
Justice Story had certainly held in 1822, in the case of the San- 
tissima Trinidad, that the Monmouth, a war-ship equipped, 
armed and even manned at Baltimore, might be sent to Buenos 
Ayres and sold, there being no pre-existing contract touching 
the building or sale; and that the only resource of Spain was 
to capture the Monmouth in transit, if she could. 

Had the Confederates been well advised in 1861, when they 
began building their navy, they would have kept well within 

1 The Santissima Trinidad, 7 Wheaton, 283. 


this decision, but over-confidence was always their bane, and 
they took little or no pains to disguise their transactions either 
in Liverpool or elsewhere. Therefore the Government had no 
difficulty in proving, what amounted to, Confederate owner- 
ship, so much so that such ownership was in substance admitted. 
Consequently, when the Alabama was ready for sea she could 
not sail openly, as the Monmouth had sailed, as contraband of 
war. She had to be smuggled out of England as an unarmed 
ship, and she took her arms afterward from a tender in a foreign 
port. So with the Alexandra, the defence called no witnesses 
to deny that the ship was built under a contract with the Con- 
federate Government. They rested on the proposition that she 
was " unarmed " and "unequipped." Before a judge of a certain 
kidney, sitting with a Liverpool jury, such a subterfuge might 
answer well enough in the matter of a wooden gunboat which 
might by a stretch of the imagination be used for trade; but it 
was by no means certain that, even with such advantages, it 
would hold water in a process against iron-clad battleships 
provided with steel rams to be used to sink an enemy, inde- 
pendent of artillery, like those the Lairds were then complet- 
ing in the Mersey. 

Lord Westbury, who was an astute lawyer, proposed to stop 
this bungling by concealing Confederate ownership, and passing 
the ship off either as belonging to some foreign principal other 
than the South, or as the property of an Englishman, who held 
it for sale, upon speculation, to whomever might care to buy, 
consequent on completion and departure. If only the Confed- 
erate ownership were disguised, Lord Westbury felt confident 
of his case, because he knew that it would be impossible to prove 
that a secret intent to participate in the war had existed in the 
minds of Englishmen who chose to deny it. This would bring 
the rams within the ruling of Story in the Santissima Trinidad, 
and this he thought would suffice. Lord Westbury's difficulty 
lay not with the Foreign Enlistment Act, which he had care- 
fully prevented Lord Russell from amending because it served 
his purpose so well, but with Sir Frederick Pollock, who was 
not only very dull but very obstinate, and was determined at 
any cost to acquit the Alexandra. 

The Alexandra was not a very powerful or important ship, 
and in contracting for her and building her Captain Bulloch had 


been careless. When he came to build the rams, he used extreme 
caution, covering the ownership most elaborately. Here lay 
the distinction between the two cases. Evidence which would 
serve to liberate the Alexandra would not clear the rams. This 
Lord Westbury must have known, and he would have risked 
the Alexandra to make sure of the rams, while Pollock, who 
was quite impracticable, seems to have cared for nothing but 
the verdict in the case in which he was interested. Hence the 
split between the two judges and the scandal which so affected 
English judicial process that when Lord Russell came to deal 
with the rams, he had to cast aside all regard for law and act 

Had Lord Westbury presided at the trial of the Alexandra , 
there would have been no scandal. He would have managed 
the case differently. Of this there can be no doubt. In April, 
1865, just as the war was closing, in the case of Ex parte 
Chavasse, 1 Lord Westbury went out of his way to explain 
his views. Though not called upon to do so, he then expressed 
the opinion that a British subject might lawfully build, equip, 
arm, and man a ship of war, and might send her from a British 
port to any point he chose beyond British jurisdiction, and 
there sell her to a belligerent whom he knew to be ready and 
waiting to buy her, provided the Government could not prove 
that in these transactions he had acted as an agent and not 
independently. How effective this construction of the law would 
have been, had it been adopted earlier, is proved by the effect 
it had even at that late hour. After her liberation in Liverpool, 
in 1864, the Alexandra was rearrested in the Bahamas, and 
though evidence of armament and the like was clear enough 
against her, she was again liberated by the colonial Vice- 
Admiralty Court for reasons which are better stated in the 
words of the local Attorney- General and of the Governor than 
in mine. The Attorney- General wrote in explanation of his 
failure: "The judge . . . required a description of evidence 
which it was impossible for me to procure, and which, I venture 
to add, will be found alike impracticable in any other case of 
forfeiture under the same statute." While Governor Rawson 
in transmitting the documents to Mr. Cardwell observed with 

1 12 Law Times, New Series, 249. 


Moreover, if Lord Westbury's dictum be accepted, that it needs 
"proof of an agreement, understanding, or concert with a bellig- 
erent Power" to establish a violation of the Foreign Enlistment 
Act, it will be almost impossible to attempt to enforce the law. 
Volunteer cruisers may be equipped and manned in swarms, with 
no power on the part of the Government to detain them in or out of 
British waters, and with a certainty that as soon as they reach the 
belligerent country the necessary agreement will be eagerly made, 
and all the evils would arise which the Act of 1819 was intended to 
prevent. 1 

Because of Lee's surrender the colonial government did not 
appeal from this judgment, but in due course their despatches 
were received by Earl Russell, who turned them over to Sir 
Roundell Palmer, who was still Attorney-General. Sir Roundell 
found himself in what would have been an embarrassing posi- 
tion had the war not ended, as he had taken something very 
like Lord Westbury's ground in the Alexandra case, for doing 
which Sir Frederick had savagely attacked him. As it was he 
contented himself with observing that though the Attorney- 
General of the Bahamas might have "exercised a sound discre- 
tion ... in declining to appeal," yet "we desire not to be 
understood as expressing our agreement either with the general 
reasoning of the judgment, or with the construction placed by 
it on the word ' intent ' in the Foreign Enlistment Act." 2 
It is also noteworthy that this opinion repudiating Lord West- 
bury and Ex parte Chavasse was written on July 31, 1865, 
and that on July 4 Lord Westbury had resigned his office be- 
cause of a vote of censure of the House of Commons. The 
opinion of Judge Doyle in the Vice- Admiralty Court was de- 
livered on May 30, 1865, after Appomattox, it is true, but 
still six weeks before Bethell's disgrace. Whether Sir Roundell 
on July 31, 1865, would have been so clear as to the error in 
Lord Westbury's judgment, had Lord Westbury still been the 
Lord Chancellor of the administration of which he was At- 
torney-General, is a matter for speculation. 

1 Appendix to the Case presented on the part of the Government of Her Britannic 
Majesty (at Geneva), 11. 286, 288. 

2 Law Officers of the Crown to Earl Russell, July 31, 1865. Appendix to the 
Case presented on the part of the Government of Her Britannic Majesty (at Geneva), 
n. 303. : 


Part II. 

On June 22, 1863, on information filed by the Attorney- 
General, the cause of the Alexandra, for violation of the Foreign 
Enlistment Act, came on for trial at Liverpool, before Chief 
Baron Pollock and a special jury. Sir William Atherton, Attor- 
ney-General, Sir Roundell Palmer, Solicitor-General, and Sir 
Robert Phillimore, Queen's Advocate, were the principal coun- 
sel for the Crown. Sir Hugh Cairns 1 led for the claimants. 
The Attorney-General opened the case to the jury. 

All these counsel were among the ablest lawyers of England, 
and all were as well acquainted with the American decisions as 
were Lord Westbury or Sir Frederick. The Law Officers of the 
Crown understood perfectly the necessity of distinguishing the 
case of the Alexandra from that of the Santissima Trinidad, 
and they felt confident that, upon the evidence, they could do 
so, since the ownership of the Alexandra by the Confederate 
Government was public and, in substance, undisputed. Sir 
Frederick, on his side, was fully determined that no such dis- 
tinction should be made before him, and wrangling between 
the judge and counsel began almost immediately. The weak 
point in the Confederate case was the recklessness with which 
Confederate officers had swaggered about Liverpool talking of 
the ship they were building in Miller & Sons' yards, and the 
equal recklessness with which Miller & Sons had habitually 
recognized these Confederates as their principals. The facts 
were so notorious that Sir William, in his information, alleged 
with confidence, that the Alexandra had been built and 
"equipped" within the United Kingdom in order to be em- 
ployed "in the service of certain foreign States, styling them- 
selves the Confederate States of America, with intent to cruise 
and commit hostilities," and so on with the usual verbiage of 
an indictment. He did not assert that she had been "armed." 
He drew his information expressly to exclude the pretence that 
the Alexandra had been built like the Monmouth, as a mercan- 

1 Hugh McCalmont, first Earl Cairns (1819-1885), one of the most eminent 
English jurists of the nineteenth century. He was elected member for Belfast in 
1852; appointed Solicitor-General by Lord Derby in 1858; Attorney- General in 
1866; and Lord Chancellor by Disraeli in 1868. It was on this occasion that 
Lord Chelmsford protested that he had been dismissed to make way for Cairns 
"with less courtesy than if he had been a butler." 


tile speculation. He rested on the fact that she had been built 
by the Confederate Government in England, as a war-ship 
designed to " cruise " against the United States, which would be, 
he argued, a clear breach of neutrality. On his side Sir Fred- 
erick perceived that if he permitted the Government to ask for 
a verdict on this ground, the case was lost. He therefore inter- 
vened very energetically. He undertook to dragoon the Attor- 
ney-General into admitting that if a British subject had a 
right to build a war-ship to sell to a belligerent at all, it made no 
difference whether he built the ship as a speculation on his own 
private account, or whether he built her on an order from the 
belligerent who needed her. The dialogue on this point between 
the counsel and the judge is so typical of the temper of the 
time that it is worth extracting verbatim. 

Sir Hugh Cairns had been speaking and had been contend- 
ing, on the authority of Story in the Santissima Trinidad, that 
a British subject might lawfully build, fit out, arm and even 
man a war-ship, and sell her to one of two belligerents. To 
this the Attorney- General replied that such a doctrine might 
possibly be relevant if it were supported by evidence, but in this 
case Sir Hugh could not pretend that the Alexandra had been 
built as a speculation, since, though he had the builders and 
owners at hand he had called no witness to contradict the tes- 
timony presented by the Government, which tended to show 
that she had been built on order, and under the inspection of 
officers of the Confederate navy. Hence, he insisted, a conclu- 
sive presumption arose "that the vessel when completed should 
not be sold, but should at once proceed to be employed in the 
service of . . . the Confederate States." 1 

Lord Chief Baron. Do you admit that a ship-builder could sell a 
vessel to either of the belligerent parties? 

Mr. Attorney-General. I say that there was no intention to 
sell. . . . 

Lord Chief Baron. I am asking with a view to obtaining some 
information as to what your opinion of the law is. I ask you whether, 
in your opinion, it is lawful for a ship-builder to build ... a vessel 
capable of being turned into a war-like vessel, . . . with a view to 
offer it for sale indifferently to one or other of the belligerent 
parties? . . . 

1 A report of this trial is to be found in the Case of the United States (at 
Geneva), v. 


Mr. Attorney-General. My object in not wishing to bind myself 
to any conclusive answer is this, that, as it appears to me, the facts 
and circumstances of the present case give no rise at all — 

Lord Chief Baron. I am not quite sure of the facts because you 
did not give me an answer; if you give an answer, I should put 
another question, and then you might perhaps see that it was per- 
haps very germane to the inquiry. I have no hesitation in saying 
that, according to all the authorities and all the decisions that we can 
get at, a ship-builder has as much right to build a ship and to sell it 
... to any belligerent parties, [as] the maker of any sort of cannon 
or muskets, or pistols, or anything else. It is laid down in Kent's 
Commentaries on American Law that it is the right of neutral sub- 
jects to supply both belligerents with arms, gunpowder, and all 
munitions of war; to which I add, why not ships? 

Mr. Attorney-General. I do not controvert the proposition, nor 
do I controvert the doctrine laid down in the two cases of the Inde- 
pendencia [The Santissima Trinidad] and the ship Alfred, . . . which 
was cited this morning. . . . 

Lord Chief Baron. Apparently, then, you concur in what I state? 

Mr. Attorney-General. I do not deny those authorities, but I 
distinguish them very much indeed from this case. I say that they 
have no bearing on the present case. The present case I put for- 
ward, as it was put forward at the outset, as being a case in which 
a particular intent is discovered to have existed, and I prove — 

Lord Chief Baron. The act does not say that it is unlawful to build 
a vessel with that intent. 

Mr. Attorney-General. I shall come to my learned friend's obser- 
vations on these various points in their order. 

The Lord Chief Baron tried to force the Attorney- General 
to admit the soundness of Story's dictum in the Santissima 
Trinidad, so that he might go on to argue that there could be 
no difference between building on speculation and on order, 
and that if a man might do the one he might equally well do 
the other. If Pollock could obtain this admission from the 
Government, he saw before him all the yards of England open 
to the Confederates. The Attorney- General saw it too, and 
declined to commit himself, although he was shyer of disputing 
the doctrine of the Trinidad than he might have been had he 
felt sure of the Chancellor. What Sir William did was to evade 
a direct answer and pass as fast as he could to Sir Hugh Cairns' 
second proposition. Sir Hugh contended that, even supposing 
he admitted the Alexandra to have been built expressly for 



the Confederates, yet to be guilty she "must be a fully armed 
vessel " when about to leave port. No, replied Sir William, 
that is not so. 

I do not pretend that the vessel was armed. The question was 
whether the ship when seized had been either " equipped," or "fur- 
nished," or " fitted out," or " armed" The statute, he maintained, 
indicated an alternative. 

Lord Chief Baron Pollock. Certainly my present impression is 
that they [the words] all mean precisely the same thing. ... To 
equip a ship of war you must furnish it with arms. ... I appre- 
hend that all these words mean substantially the same thing, 
whether you call it " equip," or "furnish," or " fitting out," or 
"arming.". . . 

This was a directer attack on the statute than the other; 
but, as soon as Sir William could silence the Chief Baron long 
enough to complete a sentence, he pointed out to him that 
the crime consisted not only in "equipping," but in attempting 
to "equip," and that it would be enough if this "attempt" 
were proved. 

But, [more convincing than this,] if one might, in addressing the 
jury, advert to the consequence of such a construction being adopted 
[as that contended for by the defence and supported by Pollock], 
it would be very easy to show that if it were to be adopted on au- 
thority the Foreign Enlistment Act would be a dead letter, and 
might as well be thrown into the fire or repealed. . . . We have, as 
a matter of evidence before us in the case, the history of the Alabama, 
... He [Sir Hugh Cairns] says that to constitute a violation of this 
section the vessel must be armed. . . . What would be the conse- 
quence of this construction? We do not need to draw on imagina- 
tion, because we have the example of the Alabama staring us in the 
face. My learned friend stands on the word "armed." As long, 
therefore, as you stop short of arming . . . the executive cannot 
interfere. The vessel cannot be seized. . . . Now, then, take the 
case of the Alabama. . . . We know, in point of fact, that she ob- 
tained her armament at Terceira, but Terceira is, for the purpose of 
the present observation, merely a place out of the Queen's domin- 
ions. She would have obtained her armament equally well out of 
the Queen's dominions if there had been a tender lying with that 
armament in the Irish Channel, four miles say from the nearest 
point of the English coast, and of course an equal or greater distance 
from the Irish coast. Now suppose that to have occurred, the British 


Government to be informed on credible and incontestable evidence — 
I have a right to take it so far that the Alabama . . . has been built 
for the express purpose . . . that she shall, as soon as safely she can 
out of reach of British law, take on board her armament, . . . and 
proceed on the operations of a ship of war — ... supposing that 
to be done once, . . . and then supposing the same thing to happen 
the next day or the next week, a similar ship, a similar destination, 
a similar preparation, and a tender . . . lying outside ... to fur- 
nish and complete the armament; and if you suppose that such in- 
stances recurring . . . and the officers of the British Government to 
be distinctly informed of them, . . . and yet no proceeding taken to 
prevent the departure of any one of those vessels from the British 
port — I ask you whether the provisions of this section would not 
be rendered entirely inoperative . . . almost under view of the 
officers and ministers of that law? I then appeal to the language of 
the statute. That is an observation to my Lord. I find that "arm- 
ing" is used as an alternative expression. . . . 

Lord Chief Baron Pollock. I have got the word "equip" in Web- 
ster's Dictionary: "Equip, to furnish with arms, or a complete suit 
of arms for military service." . . . 

Then the Attorney- General cited, in support of his conten- 
tion, the case of The United States v. Quincy, 1 in which the 
Supreme Court held that in an indictment for attempting to 
fit out or arm the privateer Bolivar, it was not necessary to 
prove that the ship had been actually armed to justify a ver- 
dict of guilty. And so presently the Attorney-General closed 
his address and the presiding judge charged the jury. Over 
this charge, 2 at a subsequent period, a scandalous wrangle took 
place, the Chief Baron repudiating his own words, and counsel 
pressing him with them until he complained that no judge in 
his time had been so treated. And indeed, at the present day, 
such an address as Pollock then made seems incredible, and it 
would now naturally be assumed that there had been errors in 
the report. But there can have been no error, for the language 
which Sir Frederick Pollock denied was reprinted verbatim by 
the British Government for presentation as evidence before 
the Tribunal at Geneva, and those documents were prepared 
after mature deliberation, under the direction of the Lord 

1 6 Peters, 445. 

2 The charge is to be found in Appendix 3 to the Case presented on the part of 
the Government of Her Britannic Majesty (at Geneva), p. 53. 


Chancellor, Lord Hatherly, and of Sir Roundell Palmer, counsel 
in the Alexandra case, who in the autumn of the year 1872, after 
the award at Geneva, succeeded Lord Hatherly as Lord Chan- 
cellor in Gladstone's Cabinet. 

After some preliminary observations, the Chief Baron quoted 
the words of Justice Story in the Santissima Trinidad, and 
added that, in his opinion, the subjects of a neutral power might 
lawfully supply a belligerent with munitions of war, "what- 
ever can be used in war for the destruction of human beings." 

Well, gentlemen, why should ships be an exception? In my 
opinion, in point of law, they are not. . . . 

Now, gentlemen, I will state to you why I put the question I did 
to the Attorney-General. I said, Do you mean to say that a man 
cannot make a vessel intending to sell it to either of the belligerent 
powers that requires to have it? . . . Is that unlawful? The learned 
Attorney-General, I own, rather to my surprise, declined giving an 
answer to a question which I thought very plain and very clear. 
You saw what passed; I must leave you to judge whether there was 
anything improper in the manner in which I (so to express it) com- 
muned with the Attorney-General on the law, so that we might 
really understand each other, and that I might have my mind in- 
structed, fitted out, equipped, and furnished, if you please, by the 
contents of his. Gentlemen, the learned Attorney- General declined 
to answer that question. But, I think, by this time, . . . you are 
lawyers enough to answer it yourselves. I think that answer ought 
to be, "Yes, a man may make a vessel." Nay, more, according to 
the authority I have just read, he may make a vessel and arm it, 
and then offer it for sale. So Story lays down. 

But I meant, gentlemen, as I said then, if I had got an affirmative 
answer to that question, to put another. If any man may build a 
vessel for the purpose of offering it to either of the belligerent Powers 
who is minded to have it, may he not execute an order for it? Be- 
cause it seems to me to follow, as a matter of course, if I may make a 
vessel and then say to the United States, "I have got a capital vessel, 
it can easily be turned into a ship of war: of course, I have not made 
it a ship of war at present; will you buy it?" If that is perfectly 
lawful, surely it is lawful for the United States to say, " Make us 
a vessel of such and such description, and when you have made it, 
send it to us." 

Now, the learned counsel certainly addressed themselves very 
much to this view of the matter. It was said, But, if you allow this, 
you repeal the statute. Gentlemen, I think nothing of the kind. 


What that statute meant to provide for was, I own, I think, by no 
means the protection of the belligerent Powers. . . . Otherwise 
they would have said, You shall not sell gunpowder, you shall not 
sell guns. . . . Why all Birmingham would have been in arms. 
But the object of this statute was this: We will not have our ports 
in this country subject to, possibly, hostile movements; you shall 
not be fitting up at one dock a vessel equipped and ready, not being 
completely armed, but ready to go to sea, and at another dock close 
by be fitting up another vessel, and equipping it in the same way, 
which might come into hostile communication immediately, possi- 
bly before they left the port. It would be very wrong if they did so, 
but it is a possibility. Now and then it has happened, and that has 
been the occasion of this statute. . . . 

Now, gentlemen, I present the matter to you in another point of 
view. The offence against which this information is directed, is the 
"equipping, furnishing, fitting out or arming." Gentlemen, I have 
looked, so that I might not go wrong ... at Webster's American 
Dictionary. . . . No one can complain that I refer to that. It ap- 
pears there that to "equip" is to "furnish with arms." . . . And I 
own that my opinion is, that "equip," "furnish," "fit out," or 
"arm," all mean precisely the same thing. I do not mean to say 
that it is absolutely necessary (and, I think, that the learned Attor- 
ney-General is right in that), it is not perhaps necessary that the 
vessels should be armed at all points; . . . The question is, whether 
you think that this vessel was fitted. Armed she certainly was not; 
but was there an intention that she should be furnished, fitted, or 
equipped at Liverpool? Because, gentlemen, I must say it seems to 
me that the Alabama sailed away from Liverpool without any arms 
at all, merely a ship in ballast, unfurnished, unequipped, unpre- 
pared, and her arms were put in at Terceira, not a port in Her 
Majesty's dominions. The Foreign Enlistment Act is no more vio- 
lated by that than by any other indifferent matter that might happen 
about a boat of any kind whatever. . . . 

Gentlemen, if you think the object was to equip, furnish, fit out, 
or arm that vessel at Liverpool, then that is a sufficient matter. 
But if you think the object really was to build a ship in obedience to 
an order, and in compliance with a contract, leaving it to those who 
bought it to make what use they thought fit of it, then it appears to 
me that the Foreign Enlistment Act has not been in any degree 
broken. . . . 

Attorney-General. Before the jury give their verdict, perhaps your 
Lordship would give us an opportunity of tendering a bill of excep- 
tions to a portion of your Lordship's ruling. 


Lord Chief Baron. I will accept any bill of exceptions you wish to 

Attorney-General. Strictly speaking, it must be done before the 
verdict is given. 

Sir Hugh Cairns. Anything in point of form we will dispense with. 
The convenient way would be to do it afterwards, I suppose, from 
the notes of the Charge. 

Then the jury returned a verdict for the defendant, as they 
had no choice but to do, under such directions, and the Attor- 
ney-General began again. 

The Attorney-General. Would your Lordship allow me to hand up 
a very brief note, so that there may be no mistake? {Handing a paper 
to his Lordship.) 

Sir Hugh Cairns. Perhaps your Lordship will let us have a copy 
of it? 

Lord Chief Baron. It need not be done now. You may wish to 
put it in some other shape. There will be no mistake about it. 

The Attorney-General. I was only anxious that we should quite 
understand what your Lordship has ruled and laid down to the jury. 
That is very shortly stated. . . . 

Lord Chief Baron. No, you have got here that if the vessel was 
not intended to be furnished. 

The Attorney-General. No, my Lord, it is "furnished or fitted 

The Solicitor General. Your Lordship said that the words were 
the same. That every one of the words required a warlike armament 
at Liverpool. That is the point. 

Lord Chief Baron. Mr. Attorney- General, I will not bind you to 
what passes on the present occasion. There cannot be any doubt 
now. I cannot alter the thing, and I have no doubt that you have 
a very accurate note of what I have said. 

The Attorney-General. I only wish that we should have your 
Lordship's concurrence now, while the matter is fresh in your Lord- 
ship's recollection. 

Lord Chief Baron. It cannot be a question of recollection. De- 
pend upon it there is an accurate note of what I have said. 

The Attorney-General. Will your Lordship allow me to send in a 
full note from the best materials that we can get? 

Lord Chief Baron. Certainly. 

No one now can ever know whether when Sir Frederick put 
Sir William off he acted in good faith or with premeditated 


duplicity. Probably he felt instinctively a wish to leave some 
avenue of escape open should he find himself later on in danger 
of being overruled by his colleagues. But whether this be thei 
true explanation of his conduct or not, he certainly put Earl 
Russell in a position which, without much exaggeration, might 
be called terrific. Earl Russell had been led to expect by his 
counsel that, however Pollock might behave, at least the Gov- 
ernment would be able to try to have the worst of his rulings 
corrected by the House of Lords; but he soon learned that no 
appeal was open to him unless the Government's exceptions to 
the rulings of the presiding judge were signed by that judge, 
and that Pollock would sign nothing. Thus on the one hand 
Earl Russell could obtain no relief from the higher courts be- 
cause of Pollock's bad faith, and on the other he could not amend 
the statute because of Bethell's obduracy. He saw himself 
drifting into a condition of impotence, when it would be impos- 
sible for him to prevent Confederate battleships from issuing 
from every dock in England. 

Yet severe as was the stress under which as rigid a man as 
Lord John Russell finally bent, it was as naught beside the 
strain which Mr. Adams endured. He alone had forced the 
British Government to seize the Alexandra and pursue her in 
the courts; he was even then preparing to try to force them to 
seize the Laird rams. He had been sent to England as a diplo- 
mat and not as a lawyer. Suddenly he became involved in a 
ferocious combat with a series of the most exalted magistrates 
upon the English bench, beside whom politicians like Palmer- 
ston and Russell were as lambs. And this conflict lasted until 
he closed his public life with the rout of Lord Chief Justice, Sir 
Alexander Cockburn, at Geneva. 

When the jury trial ended with a defeat for the United 
States and for the Crown, the cause went over for six months 
before it could be concluded, to allow time for counsel to draw 
their exceptions to the rulings of the presiding judge, and to 
await the sitting of the full court to hear argument on these 
questions of law. Meanwhile the Confederate agents, elated by 
their legal success, undertook to obtain recognition from Parlia- 
ment. Here they were ignominiously beaten, and then, by com- 
mon consent, all men drew aside while the American Minister 
closed with Lord John Russell in what was one of the fiercest 


diplomatic struggles of the century. The United States had 
determined, law or no law, to force Great Britain to seize the 
Laird rams. 

As we look back upon the year 1863 we wonder that at that 
supreme moment the Confederates should have committed 
their cause in the House of Commons to such a champion as 
John Arthur Roebuck. Roebuck had never carried much 
weight in English public life, and he was then old, eccentric 
and half-crazed with vanity. He actually believed that John 
Bright feared him in debate. Preparatory to making his motion 
for the recognition of the Confederacy on June 30, 1863, Roe- 
buck had visited Paris, had obtained an interview with the 
French Emperor, and had conversed with him touching the 
foreign policy of England and France. Precisely what passed 
at that interview is uncertain, but, whatever it may have been, 
the Emperor did not intend to have the conversation published, 
and subsequently repudiated Roebuck. Roebuck not only 
made a violent and foolish speech in the House, but he under- 
took to tell Parliament the views of the French Emperor as 
though he were a species of special envoy. The result was that 
Palmerston snubbed him, John Bright rent him limb from 
limb, and Roebuck slunk away, without even daring in that 
friendly assembly to ask for a division on his motion. 

Four days after this debate Vicksburg surrendered, Gettys- 
burg was won, and Laird launched the first of his two iron-clad 
rams. On these rams now hung the fate of the Confederacy 
and of the English party which supported the Confederacy. 
It is true that the news of the Northern victories did not reach 
London until the middle of the month, but for a considerable 
time the conviction had been growing upon Englishmen that, 
however brilliantly the South might fight on land, she must 
ultimately succumb to exhaustion were the blockade to be 
maintained. They knew also that the South could not raise 
the blockade unassisted, and that the only assistance possible 
was English. England might once have intervened with arms, 
but intervention which had failed in November, 1862, had been 
publicly discredited by Roebuck's grotesque incompetence. 
A single chance remained. Ships might sail from England 
powerful enough to destroy the fleet of the United States and 
to devastate the Northern coast. Then war would be inevi- 


table, and with war with England the American Union must 

On July 1 1 , during the interval between the Roebuck debate 
and the arrival in London of the news of Vicksburg, Mr. Adams 
began his attack on the Foreign Office. He had from the very- 
outset to make it clear that he was leading up to an ultimatum, 
for he knew well that nothing less than the presentation of 
an ultimatum, however he might disguise it in phrases, would 
stimulate Lord Russell and Lord Palmerston to beard the vast 
conspiracy by which they were opposed. He began by ex- 
pressing the regret he felt at having to recur to those "acts of 
hostility" at Liverpool which had been the subject of his re- 
monstrances ever since his arrival. "In many preceding com- 
munications I have endeavored to set forth the facts which 
appear to me to prove, beyond the possibility of a doubt, the 
establishment on the part of the insurgents in the United 
States of a systematic plan of warfare upon the people of the 
United States, carried on from the port of Liverpool, as well as 
in less degree from other ports of this kingdom." Strong as his 
language had to be, however, he was first very careful to ex- 
plain that he did not intend to imply "the smallest disposition 
on the part of Her Majesty's Government in any way to sanc- 
tion, or even to tolerate, the proceedings complained of." But 
after making this concession to politeness, he stated explicitly 
that the excuse of lack of legal power would not be accepted 
by the United States as justification for a dereliction of duty. 1 

Fruitless as have been the greater part of the remonstrances which 
I have had the honor to make, I am well aware that the causes as- 
signed for it do not relate to the want of will, so much as to the absence 
of power in the existing laws to reach a remedy. But, admitting 
this to be the case, if an injury be inflicted upon an innocent friendly 
nation, it surely cannot be a satisfactory reply to its complaints to 
say that the Government, having the will, is not also clothed with 
the necessary powers to make reparation for the past and effect 
prevention for the future. . . . 

I now have the honor to solicit your attention to the evidence of 
the last and gravest act of international hostility yet committed. 
It is the construction and equipment of a steam- vessel of war, of the 
most formidable kind now known, in the port of Liverpool. All the 

1 Mr. Adams to Earl Russell, July 11, 1863. 


appliances of British skill to the arts of destruction appear to have 
been resorted to for the purpose of doing injury to the people of the 
United States. The very construction of such a vessel in a country 
itself in a state of profound peace, without any explanation of the 
objects to which it is to be applied, is calculated to excite uneasiness 
on the part of those involved in a contest where only it could be ex- 
pected to be made of use. But when it further appears that it is 
constructed by parties who have been already proved to have fur- 
nished one vessel of war to the insurgents in America, and who are 
now shown to be acting in co-operation with their well-known agents, 
... it is not unnatural that such proceedings should be regarded by 
the Government and people of the United States, ... as virtually 
tantamount to a participation in the war by the people of Great 

He enclosed a number of affidavits. The affidavits showed 
that the rams had been begun before the Alabama sailed on 
July 29, 1862, and that plans and specifications for them had 
been prepared much earlier. These plans and specifications a 
witness had seen and read at the office of Fraser, Trenholm & 
Co., of Liverpool, a branch of a Charleston firm called John 
Fraser & Co., whose head, George A. Trenholm, was the 
Secretary of the Confederate Treasury. Fraser, Trenholm & 
Co. managed the English portion of the Confederate finances. 
They paid the seamen on Confederate war-ships, they nego- 
tiated Confederate loans, they conducted blockade running, 
handled Confederate cotton, and their office was the bureau at 
which Captain Bulloch of the Confederate navy, who built 
the Alabama, might be seen almost daily, and where he con- 
versed freely touching his plan of campaign. In April, 1863, 
George Temple Chapman, of New York, had met Bulloch at 
this office. Bulloch boasted to Chapman that he had already 
fitted out the Florida and the Alabama, and "that he was 
fitting out more, but that he managed matters so that he 
could defy any one to prove that he was fitting them out for 
the use of the Confederate Government. " The witnesses went 
into details touching the size and power of the ships, the thick- 
ness of their armor, the diameter of their turrets, and the length 
of the ram or piercer, which they carried on their bows, calcu- 
lated to be submerged about two feet, when the ships were 
loaded. All this and much else to like effect these affidavits 
contained, which Mr. Adams sent to Earl Russell not quite four 


months after the famous interview of March 26, during which 
the British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs had admitted 
to the American Minister that "the cases of the Alabama and 
Oreto were a scandal, and in some degree a reproach to" English 
law. 1 

Commenting on these details some months later, Mr. Seward 
wrote to Mr. Adams that the navy could not resist, and that 
"The new vessels which the Lairds are preparing must, there- 
fore, be expected to enter Portland, Boston, New York, or, if 
they prefer, must attempt to break the blockade at Charleston, 
or to ascend the Mississippi to New Orleans." 2 

On July 13 Earl Russell answered Mr. Adams' note prom- 
ising to do what he legally could, but he soon found that legally 
he could do nothing. He had lost the case of the Alexandra, 
and the quarrel between Pollock and Atherton, which was al- 
ready seething, seemed likely to prevent a revision of the rul- 
ings which had amounted to a direction to find a verdict against 
the Crown. Nor was Lord Russell so favorably situated in 
regard to the rams as he had been in regard to the Alexandra. 
Bulloch, as he boasted, had learned wisdom. He had caused 
the Lairds to make a fraudulent conveyance to a French firm, 
known as Bravay & Cie., who pretended to act as agents for 
the Viceroy of Egypt, and all had been prepared in advance at 
Liverpool in anticipation of an investigation by the Foreign 
Office. On July 8, 1863, three days before Mr. Adams' note 
to Earl Russell, the Collector of Customs at Liverpool had ad- 
vised the Commissioners of Customs that Mr. Dudley, the 
American consul at Liverpool, had asked him to detain an 
iron-clad built by Messrs. Laird of Birkenhead, but that he 
had satisfied himself, "from the inquiries I have made from the 
builders," that the rams "were not built for the Confederates, 
but are for Frenchmen who first contracted for them." In 
a postscript he added that the French consul had called on him 
to say that the ship was French property, and that he would 
furnish the necessary papers when she was ready for sea. Now, 
it happened that in the preceding February, Earl Russell had 
been advised by Mr. Colquhoun, the British Consul- General 
at Cairo, that this same Bravay claimed to be executing a ver- 

1 Earl Russell to Lord Lyons, March 27, 1863. 

2 Seward to Adams, September 5, 1863. 


bal order in England from the late Viceroy for two steel-clad 
frigates. But Mr. Colquhoun added that he knew that the 
Viceroy, after visiting the docks in England and France, had 
decided against that type of ship. "It is not, therefore, likely 
he should give an order to one in the trade." l 

As usual, Earl Russell referred the whole correspondence to 
the Law Officers of the Crown, who were altogether unmoved 
by such indications of fraud. On July 24 Atherton, Palmer 
and Phillimore advised the Foreign Office that " we are clearly of 
opinion that Her Majesty's Government ought not to detain or 
in any way interfere with the steam-vessels in question." 2 On 
July 25 Mr. Adams sent to Earl Russell further evidence con- 
firming Mr. Colquhoun' s doubts touching Bravay, and this 
information was supplemented by Baron Gross, the Secretary 
of the French Embassy, who denied all interest on the part of 
France. From this time forward Mr. Adams without inter- 
mission inundated the Foreign Office with affidavits, copies of 
letters, and details touching the movements of Confederate 
agents, concluding a note written on August 14 in these words: 
"It is difficult for me to give your Lordship an adequate idea 
of the uneasiness and anxiety created in the different ports of 
the United States by the idea that instruments of injury of so 
formidable a character continue to threaten their safety, as 
issuing from the ports of Great Britain, a country with which 
the people of the United States are at peace." Just seven 
days before this note Mr. Dudley had notified the legation that 
the first ram "is shipping her turrets. She no doubt can be 
got ready for sea in a week's time." 

Earl Russell was terribly perplexed. He telegraphed to Earl 
Cowley at Paris, on August 22, to ask if the rams were intended 
for the French Government. Next day but one Cowley re- 
plied: "I beg to report that the iron-clad vessels are not for 
the French Government." 

On August 28 Mr. Dudley wrote to the Collector at Liver- 
pool, requesting that a guard should be put over the ram, as 
he was informed that the Lairds " meant to run her out to sea 
either to-night or to-morrow night." 

1 Appendix to the Case presented on the part of the Government of Her Britannic 
Majesty (at Geneva), n. 315. 

2 The Law Officers of the Crown to Earl Russell, July 24, 1863. 


On August 31 Earl Russell received a telegram from Mr- 
Colquhoun, stating that the Viceroy of Egypt absolutely re- 
pudiated all connection with the rams. At Liverpool the true 
ownership was notorious. On September 4 Mr. Dudley wrote 
in something like despair to Mr. Seward: 

If ... we could summon witnesses and compel them to testify, 
the case would not be so hard. As it is, you can only obtain it in one 
of two ways, persuasion and bribery. The first, in a hostile commun- 
ity, like Liverpool ... is almost impossible, and the last taints the 
evidence. . . . The newspapers comment upon the matter, and 
there is scarcely a man, woman, or child in the place but what knows 
these rams are intended for the Confederates. Among the business 
men on 'Change it is the leading topic of conversation. No one pre- 
tends to deny, but all admit and know, that they are for this service. 1 

What Mr. Dudley wrote on September 4 was not only com- 
mon knowledge then, but had been trumpeted throughout 
England and America for many weeks. Earl Russell knew the 
facts as well as Mr. Dudley, so did Lord Palmerston, so did 
the Crown Counsel; but the Crown Counsel had had enough at 
the Alexandra trial. No power on earth could wring an opinion 
from them that the Foreign Enlistment Act sufficed to meet 
the emergency. On August 20 they wrote to Earl Russell 
with solemnity: "We cannot advise Her Majesty's Govern- 
ment to interfere in any way with these vessels. There is, in 
fact, no evidence capable of being presented to a Court of 
Justice of any intention on the part of any persons in this coun- 
try, that either of these vessels should be employed in the 
belligerent service of the Confederate Government against the 
United States; even if it would have been proper ... to act 
upon the assumption that the law recently laid down by the 
Lord Chief Baron in the case of the Alexandra is incorrect." 

Earl Russell saw himself fairly trapped. The result had now 
come to be a problem in dynamics. The Minister of the United 
States had to develop energy enough to drive the British Gov- 
ernment forward in spite of every obstacle which wealth, social 
influence and legal cunning could put in their path, or war from 
inertia between England and the United States must super- 
vene. On September 1 Earl Russell gave what purported to 
be his irrevocable decision. 

1 Dudley to Seward, September 4, 1863. 


There is no legal evidence against M. Bravay's claim, nor any- 
thing to affect him with any illegal act or purpose; and the respon- 
sible agent of the Customs at Liverpool affirms his belief that these 
vessels have not been built for the Confederates. Under these cir- 
cumstances . . . Her Majesty's Government are advised that they 
cannot interfere in any way with these vessels. ... A Court of 
Justice would never condemn in the absence of evidence, and the 
Government would be justly blamed for acting in defiance of the 
principles of law and justice, long recognized and established in this 

Earl Russell indeed wrote this note on September i, but, 
apparently, yielding to that weakness which finally brought 
the Palmerston administration almost to the point of loss of 
volition in American affairs, he delayed sending it so long that 
Mr. Adams did not receive it until about half-past four o'clock 
on the afternoon of September 4. During these three days Mr. 
Adams, who suspected that the Crown Counsel were wavering, 
became so uneasy that he decided to make a further effort. 
He therefore took advantage, as he explained to Mr. Seward, 
"of some depositions, of no great additional weight," to write 
again, on September 3. 

He began by pointing out that since France and Egypt both 
repudiated the Laird rams no reasonable doubt could remain 
that on leaving Liverpool they would be "at once devoted to 
the object of carrying on war against the United States of 
America." He then added, in words which could bear but one 
interpretation, that though he believed that he had already 
stated the importance which his Government attached to the 
sailing of these ships "with sufficient distinctness," yet he felt 
it his painful duty to make known that he had in some re- 
spects "fallen short in expressing the earnestness with which 
I have been . . . directed to describe the grave nature of the 
situation in which both countries must be placed in the event 
of an act of aggression committed against the Government and 
people of the United States by either of these formidable 
vessels." * 

1 Mr. Adams to Earl Russell, September 3, 1863. 

The precise order which this correspondence followed is of interest, since it 
illuminates the intellectual peculiarities of both Earl Russell and of Sir Roundell 
Palmer. On September 1 Earl Russell wrote to Mr. Adams: "That Her Maj- 
esty's Government are advised that they cannot interfere in any way with these 


In this last paragraph Mr. Adams referred to Mr. Seward's 
famous instructions of the nth of the previous July. In 
these instructions Mr. Seward, in considering the position 
taken by Pollock, after pointing out that, were the rulings of 
the Chief Baron in the Alexandra case to be affirmed and acted 
upon by the Cabinet, the President would be obliged to assume 

vessels," because there was no legal evidence against M. Bravay, and also be- 
cause "the responsible agent of the Customs at Liverpool affirms his belief that 
these vessels have not been built for the Confederates." 

However, it happened this letter was held back and only delivered to Mr. 
Adams at 4.20 p. m. on September 4, as appears from his note to Mr. Seward of 
that date. Meanwhile Mr. Adams wrote his strong note of September 3, which 
was indorsed, at the Foreign Office, as received on the same day. The hour is 
not indicated. On September 3 Mr. Layard, the Under Secretary, wrote to 

the Treasury as follows: 

Foreign Office, Septembers, 1863. 

Sir, — I am directed by Earl Russell to request that you will move the Lords 
Commissioners of Her Majesty's Treasury to give directions to the Customs au- 
thorities at Liverpool to stop the iron-clad vessels at Messrs. Laird's yard at 
Birkenhead, as soon as there is reason to believe that they are actually about 
to put to sea, and to detain them until further orders. I am, &c. 

A. H. Layard. 

Also, on September 3, Earl Russell wrote to Lord Palmerston from Scotland, 
to tell Lord Palmerston that he had ordered the rams to be detained. Between 
September 1 and September 3 nothing had been received at the Foreign Office 
save the affidavits sent by Mr. Adams and another similar one sent by Mr. 
Dudley to the Custom House. 

On September 1 Earl Russell had ordered Mr. Layard to write to the Treasury, 
that "if sufficient evidence can be obtained to lead to the belief that they are 
intended for the Confederate States of America" the vessels ought to be de- 
tained. This was the day on which he officially notified Mr. Adams that there 
was no such evidence. It follows that if Earl Russell had not been moved by the 
letter of September 3, then he changed his mind, since the evidence remained the 
same, without cause. This was not the statement made by Sir Roundell, who 
said emphatically in debate that "the Government had grounds for what they 

On February 12, 1864, the day after the debate in the Lords, Mr. Adams made 
this comment in his diary: 

" There was another debate on American affairs in the Lords, in which Lord 
Perby proved more successful in ferreting out the facts than on the first night. 
His compliment to me as having benefited both countries by assuming the grave 
responsibility of suppressing a despatch is a little beyond the reality. At the 
same time he dwells upon the series of events in the early part of September, 
and describes them as a diplomatic triumph, which they truly were. 

"Lord Russell's reply was not quite ingenuous. He now maintains that his 
answer on the 1st of September was not final. The language of that note will 
speak for itself. To affirm that the change in the evidence within three days was 
such as to make a complete revolution in the tone is scarcely consistent with 
probability. Yet if he can make any use of such a flimsy pretence to protect 
himself from attack, I am content." 


that no law existed in Great Britain to protect the United 
States, and that it was proper that Mr. Adams should know 
and "be able to communicate to Her Majesty's Government" 
what the President's views would be in that contingency, for- 
mulated this ultimatum: 

If the law of Great Britain must be left without amendment, and 
be construed by the Government in conformity with the rulings of 
the Chief Baron, . . . then there will be left for the United States 
no alternative but to protect themselves and their commerce against 
armed cruisers proceeding from British ports as against the naval 
forces of a public enemy. . . . The navy of the United States will 
receive instructions to pursue these enemies into the ports which 
thus, in violation of the law of nations and the obligations of neu- 
trality, become harbors for the pirates. 1 

Hitherto there had been no need even to consider the pro- 
priety of presenting so drastic a despatch to Earl Russell, but 
if Earl Russell should, after the intimation contained in the 
note of September 3, decline to act, Mr. Adams would have to 
decide whether he would proceed to extremities, or whether he 
would suppress the instructions and use other means. Should 
he decide on the latter course, and the rams escape, he would 
be held responsible for disobedience to orders. 

That day, September 3, 1863, when Earl Russell's note de- 
clining to stop the rams, and Mr. Adams' note conveying a 
veiled ultimatum touching their sailing, crossed each other, 
marked a crisis in the social development of England and 
America. To Mr. Adams the vacillation of the Cabinet 
seemed astounding weakness. On September 8 he wrote to 
Seward, "The most extraordinary circumstance attending 
this history is the timidity and vacillation in the assumption 
of a necessary responsibility by the officers of the Crown." 
To us, who look back upon the Civil War through a vista of 
fifty years, "the most extraordinary circumstance" seems to 
be that terrible energy which enabled the United States in the 
extremity of her agony to coerce the nobility and gentry, the 
army, the navy, the church, the bench, the bar, the bankers, 
the ship-builders, the press, in fine, all that was wealthy, 
haughty, influential and supposed to be intelligent in Great 

1 Seward to Adams, July 11, 1863. 


Britain. And it was as the vent of this energy that Mr. Adams, 
after receiving Earl Russell's letter of September 4, wrote on 
September 5, although despairing of success, his memorable 
declaration of war. Enclosing a paragraph cut from a South- 
ern newspaper which contained the familiar threat of burning 
Northern ports with English-built ships, he observed as calmly 
as though he were summing up a mathematical demonstration: 

It would be superfluous in me to point out to your Lordship that 
this is war. ... In my belief it is impossible that any nation, re- 
taining a proper degree of self-respect, could tamely submit to a 
continuance of relations so utterly deficient in reciprocity. I have no 
idea that Great Britain would do so for a moment. 

Still he did not communicate Seward's instructions. He 
suppressed them. After profound reflection he decided not to 
cast away the last hope of maintaining peace. He continued, 
instead of enclosing a copy of Mr. Seward's note: 

After a careful examination of the full instructions with which I 
have been furnished, in preparation for such an emergency, I deem 
it inexpedient for me to attempt any recurrence to arguments for 
effective interposition in the present case. The fatal objection of 
impotency which paralyzes Her Majesty's Government seems to 
present an insuperable barrier against all further reasoning. Under 
these circumstances, I prefer to desist from communicating to your 
Lordship even such further portions of my existing instructions as 
are suited to the case, lest I should contribute to aggravate difficul- 
ties already far too serious. I therefore content myself with inform- 
ing your Lordship that I transmit, by the present steamer, a copy 
of your note for the consideration of my Government, and shall 
await the more specific directions that will be contained in the 
reply. 1 

This letter may well be taken as a perfect specimen of the 
art of applying the maximum diplomatic pressure along the 
path of minimum resistance. And yet, strangely enough, this 
diplomatic gem was not needed. For once Mr. Adams' instinct 
had failed him. He, possibly through anxiety, credited Lord 
Russell with more tenacity than he had. Mr. Adams already 
had prevailed. England had surrendered to the note of the 

1 Mr. Adams to Earl Russell, September 5, 1863. 


Foreign Office, September 4, 1863. 

Sir, — With reference to your letter of yesterday's date with re- 
spect to the iron-clad steam rams from Messrs. Lairds' yard at Bir- 
kenhead, as well as with reference to previous letters from you on 
the same subject, I have to inform you that the matter is under the 
serious and anxious consideration of Her Majesty's Government. 

I beg you to accept the assurances of the highest consideration 
with which I have the honour to be, Sir, your most obedient servant, 


Charles F. Adams, Esq., &c, &c, &c. 

Further than this Earl Russell, for the moment, could not go, 
for he did not know whether the Cabinet would sustain him. 
He had acted on his own responsibility against the advice to the 
Crown Counsel, and he could only appeal to Lord Palmerston 
to stand by him. On September 3, the day on which he received 
the letter which appears to have determined him, he wrote 
confidentially to the Prime Minister: 

My dear Palmerston, — The conduct of the gentlemen who 
have contracted for the two iron-clads at Birkenhead is so very 
suspicious that I have thought it necessary to direct that they 
should be detained. The Solicitor General [Sir Roundell Palmer] 
has been consulted, and concurs in the measure as one of policy 
though not of strict law. ... If you do not approve, pray appoint 
a Cabinet for Tuesday or Wednesday next. 1 

Mr. Adams sent his despatch of September 5 somewhat 
early. Just before three o'clock in the afternoon he received 
the note containing Lord Russell's capitulation, and he imme- 
diately took himself to task for what he condemned as an error 
of judgment. "I need not say," he told Mr. Seward, "that had 
I known of the later course of the Government in season, I 
should have held it [his declaration of war] back. Feeling as I 
do the heavy responsibility that must devolve upon me in the 
conduct of this critical transaction, it is not my disposition to 
say or do the least thing that may add to the difficulties . . . 
between the countries." 2 And yet had Mr. Adams from the 
beginning been able to read the inmost mind of all the members 
of the British Cabinet, though he might have postponed a blunt 
presentation of the alternative, and though he might have 

1 Walpole, Life of Lord John Russell, n. 359 n. 

2 Adams to Seward, September 8, 1863. 


softened it somewhat in language, he could not have changed 
its substance. The fact had become patent, and sooner or later 
the fact had to be clothed in some form of words. The pass had 
come when nothing short of impending war would bridle the 
English aristocracy. Lord Palmerston, indeed, had to uphold 
Lord Russell, else Lord Russell would have resigned and the 
Cabinet would have fallen, but Lord Palmerston could not de- 
fend and never did defend his colleague without stultifying 
himself. The Crown Counsel declined to stretch the Foreign 
Enlistment Act to cover the case of the rams, but Palmerston, 
as Prime Minister, had in Parliament refused to amend the 
statute because it sufficed, and this notwithstanding an avowal 
by Earl Russell, which he must have known, that the escape of 
the Alabama was a scandal. On consideration Lord Palmerston 
could think of nothing better to do than to buy the rams for 
the navy. But Bravay, when asked, would not sell. Such con- 
ditions could not long continue without the fall of the ministry 
or the release of the ships. The position was not tenable. And 
Earl Russell in reply to Mr. Adams, feeling what he risked and 
how he was beset, told him with bitterness that he did not appre- 
ciate what had been done for him. The Earl began by observ- 
ing that he had read "your letter of the 5th instant . . . with 
great regret." He insisted that the Cabinet had taken every 
step to enforce the law which was "within their competency," 
and that they would, "from a due regard to their own good 
faith, and to the national dignity, continue ... to pursue the 
same course." He concluded by hoping "that the Government 
at Washington may take a calmer and more dispassionate view 
of these matters than seems to be inferred from your note." l 
Earl Russell could have made no such mild reply as this had he 
been in possession of Mr. Seward's despatch, no matter what 
the consequences might have been to himself or to England. 

Whatever might have been Earl Russell's anxieties and 
troubles, and however strong the Cabinet's wish "faithfully to 
perform" their duty, Mr. Adams too well knew their weakness 
to relax for an instant his grasp. On the contrary, after the 
seizure of the rams his tone rose from one of stern remonstrance 
to one of sterner menace. Come what might, so long as he stayed 
in England, those rams should never sail. 

1 Earl Russell to Mr. Adams, September 11, 1863. 


In his letter of September 1 1 Earl Russell had only promised 
that the rams should be held " until satisfactory evidence can 
be given as to their destination, or, at all events, until the in- 
quiries which are now being prosecuted . . . shall have been 
brought to a conclusion." To this my father rejoined that if 
Lord Russell felt impelled to tell him that he had read the 
letter of September 5 with " great regret," it could not " ex- 
ceed the regret with which I wrote it." 

I trust I may be pardoned if I was somewhat moved on perceiv- 
ing that the peace of two great countries, and the lives of perhaps 
thousands of the people inhabiting them, were about to be seriously 
endangered, ... by reason of the want of a scruple of technical 
evidence to prove a gross and flagrant fraud. With regard to the 
opinion of Her Majesty's Customs Agent at Liverpool, I had al- 
ready had abundant cause to know the value of that in various . . . 
remonstrances against the notorious proceedings at that port. If 
Her Majesty's Ministers look no further for proof to invalidate the 
evidence which I have had the honor to present, I can readily fore- 
see what will be the issue. ... I may be pardoned if I here remind 
your Lordship of the significant language used in a parallel case in 
former days by that distinguished British statesman George Can- 
ning, when he deprecated the consequence of "permitting the paltry, 
pettifogging way of fitting out ships in British harbors" to "sneak 
his country into a war." 

If then, there be any virtue in the authority upon which Her 
Majesty's Government deliberately decided that the provisions of 
the Foreign Enlistment Act could be enforced, without . . . amend- 
ment, this is surely a most fitting and urgent occasion. ... I have 
reason to believe that no efforts are intermitted to prepare the war 
vessels for immediate departure. ... I shall be little surprised 
at learning . . . of . . . any . . . expedient, however audacious 
. . . which may have for its object the possession of these for- 
midable ships. 1 

Since Trafalgar no British minister had endured such lan- 
guage, and Lord John Russell could not endure it in silence 
and yet hope to keep his authority in Parliament. As it was, 
this haughty aristocrat was soon to hear himself accused of 
cringing before a foreign power. So when Lord John came 
to answer imputations against the honesty of his subordinates 
and reflections on his own common sense, he launched into 
1 Mr. Adams to Earl Russell, September 16, 1863. 


vaunts which he knew to be untrue, and, what was worse, 
which he knew might before long become the jest of Europe, 
by being published, if not at home, at least in America. 

There are, however, passages in your letter of the 16th, as well 
as in some of your former ones, which so plainly and repeatedly 
imply an intimation of hostile proceeding toward Great Britain on 
the part of the Government of the United States, unless steps are 
taken by Her Majesty's Government which the law does not 
authorize, or unless the law which you consider as insufficient is 
altered, that I deem it incumbent upon me, in behalf of Her 
Majesty's Government, frankly to state to you that Her Majesty's 
Government will not be induced by any such consideration, either 
to overstep the limits of the law or to propose to Parliament any 
new law which they may not, for reasons of their own, think proper 
to be adopted. They will not shrink from any consequences of 
such a decision. 1 

The very day after he had pledged his word that nothing 
could induce the ministry to which he belonged "to overstep 
the limits of the law," he received notice from the American 
legation that a strong detachment of the crew of the Florida 
had reached Liverpool, consigned from Brest, by a commander 
in the Confederate navy, to Captain Bulloch, who had built 
the Alabama, and who was then building the rams. Such a 
violation of neutrality, Mr. Adams was very sure, "if com- 
mitted by any agent of the United States, would be likely to 
attract the immediate notice of Her Majesty's Government," 
but this was incidental. The coming to England of this force 
indicated a design to seize these ships and take them to sea by 
violence. 2 

Hitherto Liverpool had been solidly for the South. Now it 
split into factions. The officials of the Custom House were 
more convinced than ever that the Lairds were spotless, and 
that, even if they were building battle-ships for the Confeder- 
ates, they might be implicitly trusted to notify the Govern- 
ment in season, of the day and hour on which they were to sail. 
So high did the reputation of the Lairds for truth and veracity 
stand among this gentry. The naval officers, on their side, 
were equally convinced that there was grave danger of an 

1 Earl Russell to Mr. Adams, September 25, 1863. 
• 2 Mr. Adams to Earl Russell, September 24, 1863 (received September 26). 


outbreak, and there can be little doubt that some attempt at 
a rescue would have been made, had not the guarding of the 
rams been assigned to Captain Inglefield of the Majestic. For 
once the Ministry employed, in the enforcement of their neu- 
trality, an energetic, competent and honest agent. Captain 
Inglefield did not rest until he had opened the docks, towed 
the battle-ships into the river, and anchored them under the 
guns of his frigate, with a strong guard on board. 

Only a consecutive perusal of the correspondence of those 
months can make us realize how high passions ran. On Sep- 
tember 24 Sir Roundell Palmer became Attorney-General, 
and the tone of the Law Officers of the Crown sank lower than 
ever. Conversely affairs in Liverpool waxed warlike. Captain 
Inglefield made all his preparations for boarding the ram 
called El Mounassir in force, should the Lairds try to run her 
out on some foggy night. On October 25 he wrote confiden- 
tially to the Admiralty, that the ill-feeling among the Laird 
hands was so great that he had obtained one of the fastest 
steamers on the river, because, when it came to towing the ram 
from the dock, "one back-turn of the tug's wheels might send 
our pinnace and crew to the bottom (should it be found neces- 
sary to board), . . . [therefore] I determined to send a fast 
steamer which would be quite a match for the tug-boat, and 
could act, in case of necessity, to take forcible possession. . . . 
I proposed . . . (on receipt of a preconcerted signal) to em- 
bark sixty armed men at a few minutes' notice, and so to put 
myself speedily in a position to support the . . . Custom House 
officers." 1 To the Custom House the Lairds continued to be 
to the end as innocent as lambs. On October 14, long after the 
crew of the Florida had arrived, the Collector wrote to the 
Commissioners of Customs that, because of the presence of 
these men, "It appears that apprehensions are entertained 
that forcible possession may be taken of these ships, and that 
they may be carried away by Confederate agency; I have 
therefore instituted careful inquiry . . . and the result of 
such inquiry is, . . . that there is not the slightest foundation 
for supposing that any such intention exists." 2 

1 Captain Inglefield to Vice-Admiral Sir F. Grey, October 25, 1863. Appendix 
to the Case presented on the part of the Government of Her Britannic Majesty (at 
Geneva), n. 417. 

2 Edwards to the Commissioners of Customs, October 14, 1863. lb. 11. 401* ' 


On October 29 Mr. Adams pointed out to Mr. Seward that, 
while he had confidence in Captain Inglefield, it was remarkable 
"that any such question as the defiance of the Government in 
a leading British port should be supposed possible," and com- 
mented on the fact that though Mr. Laird, member for Birken- 
head, was said to be a timid man, he had dared, in a speech at 
Liverpool, "to threaten the Government itself, if they attempt 
to interpose their power to prevent his evading the law of the 
land, even though thereby it should hazard the peace of the 

By the middle of October every one whom Bravay had origi- 
nally mentioned as being builders of the rams had repudiated 
him. No one would even consider them as a possible purchase 
except the Sultan of Turkey, who recently had intimated that, 
if such ships were really for sale he might like to see the plans. 
He was, however, not dealing through the Viceroy, and was 
committed to absolutely nothing. On October 16 Earl Russell 
received this telegram from Mr. Colquhoun: "The Viceroy 
denies emphatically that he has in any manner engaged to in- 
duce the Porte to purchase the iron vessels. He declares that 
the subject was never mentioned between himself and M. 
Bravay, and that the latter is perfectly at liberty to do what he 
pleases with them. His Highness from the first refused to 
recognize any of Bravay's contracts." All this time the Lairds 
clamored for their ships louder and louder, and Lord Russell 
applied to the Law Officers to know how to justify the seizure. 
From the beginning Sir Roundell had been of the mind that the 
seizure could not be justified under the law, yet the seizure had 
been made, and he could only tell Lord Russell that he must 
inform the Lairds that he had acted "under the authority of 
the provisions of the Foreign Enlistment Act." But still Sir 
Roundell was as timid as any hunted hare. The main question, 
after all, said he, is "whether M. Bravay in fitting them [the 
rams] out at Liverpool had a fixed intention that they should 
be employed in the Confederate service." This question, he 
continued, depending largely "upon moral and circumstantial 
evidence, makes it important to exclude, if possible, the sup- 
position" that "M. Bravay may really have contemplated a 
sale of these vessels to the Turkish through the Egyptian Gov- 
ernment . . . with respect to which our present information 


is not satisfactory." * Sir RoundelFs opinion was actually 
given five days after Mr. Colquhoun's telegram. It would not 
be easy in all the long roll of opinions of attorney-generals to 
find one more craven. 

So the autumn wore away, and as winter came on Lord Russell 
meditated on facing Parliament with these rams on his hands, 
and Sir Roundell on meeting the Court of Exchequer without a 
bill of exceptions signed by the Chief Baron. Sir Roundell 
knew that Sir Frederick would do him and the Ministry all the 
harm he could, and Sir Roundell was not the man to coerce a 
domineering judge. His predicament was almost as unpleasant 
as Earl Russell's, while he had a thinner skin and far less cour- 
age. So when it came to the test between these men Sir Fred- 
erick routed Sir Roundell and precipitated chaos. On this 
subject Sir Roundell was always somewhat sore, and he sub- 
sequently, in his Memorials, published his version of what hap- 
pened. His tale begins with the jury trial. I give it in his own 
words somewhat condensed. 2 

The Lord Chief Baron, after summing up the evidence, put 
before the jury the question of law on which it was his duty 
to direct them. The Chief Baron, having stated that the word 
"equip" in the statute meant "arm," went on to say: 

It seems to me that, if the Alabama sailed from Liverpool without 
any arms at all, as a mere ship in ballast, so that her armament was 
put on board at Terceira, which is not in Her Majesty's dominions, 
then the Foreign Enlistment Act was not violated at all. The 
question is, was there any intention, in the port of Liverpool or any 
other port, that the ship should be (in the language of the Act of 
Parliament) equipped, fitted out, or armed, with the object of tak- 
ing part in any contest? If you think that the object was to equip, 
furnish, fit out, or arm that vessel at Liverpool, then there is suffi- 
cient matter for your consideration. But if you think the object 
really was to build a vessel in obedience to orders and in compliance 
with a contract, leaving it to those who bought it to make what use 
they thought fit of it, then it appears to me that the Foreign En- 
listment Act has not in any degree been broken. 

On the one hand it was admitted that the ship had been built 
as a ship of war for the Confederate States; on the other hand 

1 The Law Officers of the Crown to Earl Russell, October 19 and 21, 1863. 

2 Earl of Selborne, Memorials, Family and Personal, 11. 442 et seq. 


there was nothing to show that she had been armed, or that 
there had been an intention to arm her, within British juris- 
diction. On this evidence and with these directions the jury 

had no choice but to return a verdict against the Crown, acquitting 
the ship, which they did. We desired to bring the question of law 
. . . before the House of Lords. This could only be done at that 
time in one way, by what was called a "Bill of Exceptions" to the 
ruling of the Judge; which it was necessary to tender immediately. 
. . . This we proposed to do, and wrote out and would have handed 
in our exceptions, but for the interposition of the Judge; who said, 
"I will accept any Bill of Exceptions you choose to tender." The 
proceeding was technical; . . . and it was usual, in cases of impor- 
tance, to allow time for drawing it up. When, therefore, the Lord 
Chief Baron intimated that we were not to be bound by what had 
been prepared at the moment, ... we left the court well satisfied 
with that understanding. . . . That any difference could arise as 
to what the direction given to the jury was, did not occur to any of 
us as possible; we had the words before us, which seemed unambigu- 
ous. If the Lord Chief Baron were not satisfied with our way of 
putting it, it could be put in his own words, or in any other way 
(the substance being the same) which he might consider more accu- 
rate. Our surprise, therefore, was great, when, after a long corre- 
spondence with Sir William Atherton during the vacation, his Lord- 
ship disclaimed the ruling, . . . and refused to sign any Bill of 
Exceptions at all. In vain did Sir William Atherton press upon 
him the words which he had used, and especially what he said 
about the Alabama. He replied that "the Alabama had no more 
to do with the matter than Noah's Ark." 

So stood the case, when Sir William Atherton was compelled, by 
the illness of which he died early in the following year, to retire 
from office. I succeeded him as Attorney-General on the 24th of 
September; my own place being taken by Collier. 

When the Courts met at the beginning of Michaelmas Term, my 
first official duty was to move for an enlargement of the time within 
which the Bill of Exceptions, in the Alexandra case, might be 
signed. I said I had no reason to believe that, on that subject, there 
would be any difference between our opponents and ourselves; and 
that I could not relinquish the hope that the Lord Chief Baron 
might still agree to what was necessary, in order to obtain such a 
determination of the real question as might be satisfactory to all 
parties, and useful to the public. But the Lord Chief Baron inter- 
posed; "he saw no prospect whatever of any change in the view 
which he had taken in his correspondence with Sir William Ather- 



ton." He denied that he had told the jury the ship must be armed 
in order to come within the Act, and said he had left the matter at 
large to them. When I stated my conviction that the jury had been 
guided by what they understood to be his interpretation of the 
Statute, he answered, — "Nothing of the kind." His colleagues 
upon the Bench did not seem to like the situation; and, in their 
anxiety to find a way of escape from it, they suggested that they 
had power, by making new Rules of Court, to give a right of Appeal 
in Crown suits, . . . and intimated that they were prepared to 
make use of that power. ... To this the Lord Chief Baron was will- 
ing to agree. He was more than eighty years old, having presided 
over the Court of Exchequer for nineteen years, with general re- 
spect. To press any further a public controversy with him, of which 
the character must have become personal, would have been painful 
and unseemly; and, under these circumstances, the only thing pos- 
sible was to give up the Bill of Exceptions which he refused to sign, 
and to move for a new trial, hoping to have a right of Appeal under 
the new Rules, which were accordingly made. 

I obtained a Rule nisi for a new trial; and, on the motion that it 
should be made absolute, an elaborate argument took place. It 
was then admitted that the question did depend entirely upon the 
point of law which we had desired to raise by our Bill of Excep- 
tions. Judgment was given on the nth of January, 1864, when the 
Court was equally divided. The Lord Chief Baron took the same 
view of the law which we had understood him to lay down to the 
jury at the trial, and Baron Bramwell agreed with him. The other 
two judges, Barons Channel and Pigott, dissented, adopting the 
construction of the Statute upon which the Crown relied. As a 
necessary consequence of that equal division of opinion, the motion 
for a new trial was refused. In vain did we appeal to the Exchequer 
Chamber, and from the Exchequer Chamber to the House of Lords. 
In both it was held, by a majority of voices (though in both there were 
great judges who differed from the majority), that the Court of 
Exchequer had no power to make the new Rules giving us a right to 
appeal. The consequence was that the Alexandra was released, and 
passed into the service of the Confederate States. The question of 
law was left undetermined (I should rather say) in greater uncer- 
tainty than before. 1 

When Sir Roundell wrote his Memorials, toward the close of 
his life, he very naturally wished to make a good case for him- 

1 Sir Roundell Palmer was not absolutely exact in his report of the instruc- 
tions given by Pollock, C. B. See p. 284, supra. 


self, but the best is poor. He seems to have been afraid both 
of Lord Westbury and of the Chief Baron, who, though nearly 
eighty-one, had no scruples and a bitter tongue. Sir Roundell 
could only have appeared well had he shown courage and sin- 
gleness of purpose. First he had to deal with the law. The 
decision in the Santissima Trinidad stood in his way, as it subse- 
quently stood in the way of the United States at Geneva. Mr. 
Bancroft Davis, who represented the United States at Geneva, 
treated it properly. Standing alone, said he, the Santissima 
Trinidad is "at variance with common sense, and with the whole 
current of the action of nations." If it must be taken alone, he 
should ask the Tribunal to disregard it. Happily, he argued, 
there is no necessity to take it alone, since, at the same term, 
and on the next day, it was so explained and limited by Chief 
Justice Marshall, in the Gran Para, 1 that the two cases can be 
read together, forming, as it were, but one. 2 Any errors made by 
Justice Story on March 12, 1822, were corrected by the head of 
the Court on March 13. 

Had Sir William Atherton lived, some such argument might 
have been made, for Sir William was a stiff er man than Sir Roun- 
dell, and at the jury trial resolutely refused to commit himself. 
Afterward I came to know Sir Roundell rather well, consider- 
ing the difference in our age and rank. He was a very agree- 
able man, but not famous either for ingenuousness or pugnacity, 
especially when on the weaker side. Here he found himself in 
a dilemma. Lord Westbury was committed to the doctrine of 
animus. Sir Roundell did not wish to run counter to Lord 
Westbury, therefore he conceded the soundness of the Santis- 
sima Trinidad. He did not insist that the meaning of a statute 
on which hung peace and war could not be juggled with. He 
himself was always only too ready to split straws. He split 
straws here. He denied any international obligation to enforce 
municipal law. Nor did he dare, when Sir Frederick repudi- 
ated his promise to allow the Government's exceptions, and 
brazenly sneered at his own written words, to take the old 
man by the throat. He should, if he had been in earnest, have 
thrown up the case and reported the falsehood of the judge to 
Parliament for the legislature to deal with, as with an inter- 

1 7 Wheaton, 471. 

2 Case of the United States (at Geneva), 198, 202. 


national breach of faith. Nothing of all this did he even attempt. 
He tamely argued his cause on the basis of the Santissima 
Trinidad, thus laying himself and the Cabinet open to an out- 
rage from Sir Frederick which was remembered and quoted 
both in and out of Parliament for years to come. 

The result of the argument on the part of the Crown seems to be 
this (said Sir Frederick), A shipbuilder may build a ship altogether of 
a warlike character, and may arm it completely with the latest and 
most mischievous invention for the destruction of human beings, and 
may then sell it to one of two belligerents, with a perfect fitness for 
immediate cruising, and ready to commit hostilities the instant it is 
beyond the boundary of neutral territory, provided there was no pre- 
vious contract or agreement for it. But if there be any contract or 
agreement for it, it cannot be made to order with the slightest war- 
like character about it, though this be part of the accustomed and 
usual trade of this country. . . . The means of evasion which this fur- 
nishes is obvious. A signal, a word, a gesture, may convey an order 
wholly incapable of being proved. It is unnecessary to dwell upon 
this; it is at once perfectly obvious; and the real difference between 
a crime and an act of commerce may, in point of evidence, entirely 
disappear. To use an expression borrowed from one familiar in 
Westminster Hall about a coach and six, a whole fleet of ships might 
sail through such an Act of Parliament as this, if this be the mean- 
ing of it; and we are to believe that our legislators exhausted all 
their wisdom in settling the language of the 7th clause, and had none 
remaining to perceive the enormous loop-hole which they had left. 

This thrust by Sir Frederick at Sir Roundell and Lord 
Westbury is another instance of that social incoherence which 
paralyzed the aristocracy in its conflict with America. Sir 
Frederick was a Tory politician, and as a Tory he used this op- 
portunity to discredit a Whig Cabinet and a Whig Chancellor. 
For Sir Frederick stigmatized, as dishonest, opinions which Lord 
Westbury was known to entertain, and which he announced 
from the bench in 1865 in Ex parte Chavasse. Nor could 
the attack on Lord Westbury have been accidental; for Sir 
Frederick paraphrased the language afterward used by the 
Chancellor, and this paraphrasing must have been intended for 
parliamentary effect. It did have a very considerable effect, 
as the debate a few weeks later proved. Still deep as Pollock 
may have cut, he cut less deep than did his associate, Baron 


B ram well, who was the only one of Pollock's three associates 
who sustained him. Baron B ram well was a better lawyer than 
Sir Frederick, and his opinion carried more weight. He said, in 
substance, that setting aside all personal opinions as to the 
better policy to pursue in the enforcement of neutrality, he, as a 
judge, had only to consider the meaning of the statute, and he 
thought that the statute intended to render penal only the 
sending forth of an armed ship to participate in war. "I am 
aware of the consequences if this is the law. A ship may sail 
from a port ready to receive a warlike equipment, that equip- 
ment may leave in another vessel, and be transferred to her as 
soon as the neutral limit is passed, . . . and thus the spirit of 
international law may be violated, and the letter and spirit of 
the municipal Act evaded. But as the law stands, . . . I see no 
remedy. ... I am aware, of course, that it would be easy to 
. . . make a law prohibiting the sending forth of [such] a ship. 
. . . Whether such a law would be desirable I do not presume 
to suggest." Baron B ram well was right, it was not the func- 
tion of the judges but of the Cabinet to decide "whether such 
a law would be desirable, " and if the Cabinet honestly wished 
England to do her duty as a neutral, and were advised by their 
counsel, as they had been, that the statute was imperfect, noth- 
ing could be plainer than that an amendment "was desirable." 
Why Lord Palmerston and Lord Russell so obstinately declined 
to ask Parliament for additional legislation they never could, or 
at least they never would, satisfactorily explain. The only con- 
vincing explanation would have been that, as honest men them- 
selves, they had not supposed that English judges could have 
resorted to flagrant equivocation to compass a political end, 
especially when that end involved a repudiation of solemn 
engagements with the Crown. But if this were their reason 
they could hardly have given it, in view of the vulnerability of 
Lord Westbury. 

So far as the Chief Baron was concerned, it is not very sur- 
prising, considering the manner of man he was, that he should 
have been willing to go great lengths to prevent his rulings 
from coming before a higher English tribunal, for the character 
of those rulings was very shortly and very thoroughly exposed 
by the Scotch Court of Session. 

Many of the brightest ornaments of the British bench and 


bar have been Scotchmen, and the Court of Session, to say the 
least of it, has always stood as high as the Court of Exchequer. 
The Court of Session in 1864, without hesitation, unanimously 
swept aside the pettifogging of the Exchequer in a decision 
which, if it had been made in England in 1863, would have 
saved the nation from bitter subsequent humiliation. 

On December 10, 1863, the Collector of Customs at Glasgow 
seized the ship Pampero, as the Alexandra had been seized, for 
violation of the Foreign Enlistment Act, and the Lord Advo- 
cate filed an information in which he did not allege an arma- 
ment because he could not do so. On May 5, 1864, the case 
came up on a preliminary objection made by the claimants to 
the competency of evidence to prove an "equipment" in contra- 
vention of the statute, when the evidence fell short of proving 
an armament. Lord Ardmillan held that, "The actual arming 
... or intention to arm ... is not necessary to the constitu- 
tion of this offence. Any operation whatever in the way of 
equipment, tending to the fulfilment of the statutory intent," 
is an offence under the Act. 1 

After this ruling the claimants agreed that judgment should 
be entered for the Crown, and the building of a Confederate 
navy on the Clyde ended. 

Occasionally, as Mr. Gladstone said of himself, even the 
wisest men behave as if distraught. Mr. Seward was, unques- 
tionably, one of the ablest ministers of Foreign Affairs which 
our country has produced, and yet Mr. Seward in the winter 
of 1863 perpetrated an act of such astounding recklessness 
that, as I look back upon it, I am aghast. No one in America 
knew so well as Seward the extreme tension in England in 
December, 1863; no one knew so well the pressure on Lord 
Russell, or the precarious tenure of power of the Cabinet. No 
one could appreciate, as he could appreciate, the disaster it 
would be to the United States should the Palmers ton admin- 
istration be defeated in the Commons on the issue of the seiz- 
ure of the rams. And yet Mr. Seward in December, 1863, sent 
to Congress, appended to the President's message, not only 
the whole correspondence touching the rams, which he knew 
Earl Russell was sedulously reserving, but even those instruc- 
tions of July 11 which Mr. Adams had thought so compro- 

1 Lord Advocate v. Flemming, 2 Cases in the Court of Session, 3d Series, 1060. 


mising that he risked his reputation and his political life 
rather than present. 

The shock in England was prodigious, coming, as it did, on 
the heels of the Alexandra scandal, and immediately before the 
meeting of Parliament. Mr. Seward had said bluntly what 
Mr. Adams had said discreetly, that England had no law for 
the protection of countries with whom she was at peace, there- 
fore those countries must, at whatever risk, protect themselves, 
and this statement had been proved to be true by the antics 
of an octogenarian chief justice. As Mr. Adams wrote to Mr. 
Seward: "The feeling of the profession seems, on the whole, 
to be one of mortification at this spectacle. . . . The English 
are indifferent to reproach, but they sensibly feel ridicule. 
Proudly as they boast of the perfection of their domestic in- 
stitutions, it is with no little regret that they open their eyes 
only to perceive so glaring an instance of their defects." l 

Nor was this all, or the worst. Englishmen now understood 
for the first time the position into which the Palmerston ad- 
ministration had brought their country. The culmination of 
English pride and self-complacency is marked by the appear- 
ance of Macaulay's History, and may be fixed pretty precisely 
as the year i860. That period of elation lasted until the publi- 
cation in Washington of this diplomatic correspondence. From 
the wound it then received it never recovered. Go back as far 
as they would Englishmen had bragged that England had never 
turned her back upon an enemy. Sometimes she had been de- 
feated, it is true, but she had never been intimidated. Yet 
in 1864, when they came to read this diplomatic record, they 
learned how the most distinguished member of the great house 
of Russell, with his own admission before his eyes that the 
escape of the Alabama was a scandal, and with the whole world 
ringing with the boasts of the Confederates that with certain 
English-built ships they would devastate the seacoast of the 
Northern States, had told the American Minister on September 
1 that he could not "interfere in any way with those vessels," 
out of respect for English law; and how, on the day after this 
declaration, he had seized those very ships, in defiance of law, 

1 Adams to Seward, April 8, 1864. Mr. Adams probably received most of his 
impressions touching legal opinion from Lord Wensleydale, an intimate friend. 
Lord Wensleydale dissented when the House of Lords dismissed the Alexandra 
appeal in 1864. 


because of an intimation that hostilities must follow upon their 

Even so the most damaging revelations had not been dis- 
closed. Mr. Adams himself never knew that on the day Earl 
Russell assured him that Gladstone's Newcastle speech did not 
" justify any of the inferences that had been drawn from it, of 
a disposition in the Government now to adopt a new policy, " 1 
Lord Russell and Mr. Gladstone had jointly urged intervention, 
and that on that day the design had been formed to engage the 
French Emperor in an attempt to influence the Cabinet, after 
other means had failed. Nor, more humiliating still, though 
Englishmen might surmise, they could not yet prove, that Lord 
Russell held the Laird rams without trial, in the hope of starv- 
ing the Lairds into making to him a sale, because his Attorney- 
General did not dare a second time to face Sir Frederick. It 
was only a year later that Lord Russell told Mr. Adams that 
Sir Roundell's timidity had driven the Cabinet to adopt the 
expedient of buying the rams, since he would not trust a jury 
with Pollock on the bench. 

"I," Mr. Adams wrote to Seward on February 16, 1865, 
"remarked that I had become convinced, from the result of 
the last trial, that the United States could stand no chance 
before a jury. His Lordship said that it was in consequence of 
doubts of the Crown lawyers, in the case of the iron-clads, as 
to the possible presence of one or two advocates of the Confed- 
erates on the jury, that it had been decided to buy them up. 
People here now took sides, almost as vehemently on our 
questions, as we did ourselves." 2 

On February 4, the first night of the session, Parliament 
showed its temper. Lord Derby expressed the hope that Earl 
Russell had answered, in what Earl Russell afterward described 
as " becoming terms," Seward's instructions of July n, touch- 
ing the destruction of Confederate cruisers in English ports by 
the American navy. On February 9 Earl Russell, luckily for 
himself, was able to answer that, when the noble Earl had 
asked his question, he did not remember any such despatch. 
"I find since, that it was a despatch written by Mr. Seward to 
Mr. Adams, but Mr. Adams never thought proper to lay that 

1 Adams to Seward, October 24, 1862. 

2 Adams to Seward, February 16, 1865. 


despatch before me, and therefore I was spared the difficulty 
and the pain of giving an appropriate answer to it." 

Then the Earl of Derby pressed Earl Russell harder. "I 
presume," said he, "that it has now been laid before the noble 
Earl, because I see that a reference is made by Mr. Adams" to 
an answer "to several despatches, among which he includes the 
despatch of July n." 

Earl Russell. " I certainly do not find among the papers the 
despatch of July n, and Mr. Adams informed me expressly 
that he had received that despatch and did not hand it to me. 
That being so, I should not do so useless a thing as endeavor to 
get up a wrangle with Mr. Adams on a despatch which was 
never presented." 

All this disturbed Mr. Adams, but not because it injured his 
own standing, for it improved it. As he told Mr. Seward in a 
letter he wrote him on February n : "The effect is to raise my 
action in the British estimation rather more than it deserves, 
or I altogether relish;" for he did not "relish" having his 
reputation raised at the expense of his friends and more espe- 
cially of his chief. All England saw that the United States had 
won a magnificent victory, and men paused in their astonish- 
ment, not knowing at which to wonder most, the victory itself 
or the skill of the champion. Lord Derby, who was the head of 
the Conservative party, may be supposed to have fairly ex- 
pressed British educated opinion, and Lord Derby, in the de- 
bate, went far. "I think Mr. Adams took upon himself a grave 
responsibility — a very grave one it was — in not presenting 
it [Mr. Seward's instructions of July 11]; and I think that in 
so doing he acted as a friend of peace and a friend of the good 
relations between the two countries. I think it required no 
small degree of moral courage to take the course he did, and 
that he did good service to both countries by withholding the 
despatch. . . . And here I must observe that, in all the com- 
munications which it has been his duty to make to the noble 
Earl, Mr. Adams has acquitted himself with the strictest 
courtesy, and acted as well, under the circumstances, as it was 
possible to do." * 

Then Lord Derby went on to describe the magnitude of the 

1 Hansard, Third Series, dxxm. 429, 430. Lord Derby in the debate of 
February n, 1864. 



American triumph. Having summed up the sequence of the 
correspondence which culminated in Lord Russell's despatch 
of September 1, refusing to interfere, of Mr. Adams' despatch 
of September 3, intimating that the escape of the rams must 
mean war, but suppressing the July instructions, and of Lord 
Russell's answer of September 4, stating that the determina- 
tion not to interfere was under reconsideration, Lord Derby- 

"I defy anyone, even the least prejudiced, not to infer from 
it [the volume issued by the State Department] a great triumph 
to the diplomacy of the United States, and that the British 
Government had given to intimidation and menace that which 
they would not yield to a sense of justice." * 

Mr. Adams was surprised at the effect which the publication 
of the correspondence in England had upon his personal posi- 
tion. From this time forward he stood quite apart. He com- 
mented upon the phenomenon with some wonder in his diary. 
He could see nothing so very remarkable in a minister, entrusted 
with a negotiation of supreme importance, taking the respon- 
sibility of temporarily withholding a despatch which he thought 
likely to be injurious, even if by so doing he risked reprimand 
himself. He knew, he noted, that he had been calm throughout, 
and undisturbed by doubts touching his duty; and this was how 
he always impressed me. He had something nearly approach- 
ing a perfect poise of mind. 

When, however, on reading the debates in Parliament, he per- 
ceived that Lord Derby and the opposition generally were in- 
clined to use him as foil by which to discredit both Mr. Seward 
and Earl Russell, he determined to set himself right. He 
wrote to Mr. Seward that nothing could be "more unsafe to a 
diplomatic agent than an approach to a false position be- 
tween two Governments;" and he then pointed out, as 
gently as he could, how narrow the margin had been be- 
tween success and ruin, and how trifling an error might still 
work disaster: 

"The publication of the diplomatic papers annexed to the 
President's message has elicited much comment in Parlia- 
ment and in the newspapers, upon your instructions to me, 
. . . particularly that portion of them which declared the 

1 Hansard, Third Series, clxxiii. 432. 


intention of the Government, under certain contingencies, to 
enter English ports and seize obnoxious vessels.' ' 

He then explained that he had not intended to suppress those 
instructions altogether, but to reserve them as a last resource, 
when the British should have made their final answer declining 
to stop the rams. 

But when that moment arrived, which was on the reception of 
Lord Russell's note of the 1st of September, I felt so fearful that the 
declaration of that intention would close all further possibility of 
preserving the peace between the two countries, that I preferred to 
take the other course indicated in my reply of the 5th, which was, 
while intimating the strong character of my instructions, to propose 
to await new ones adapted to the precise emergency rather than to 
declare them. As matters actually turned, this proceeding seems to 
have been fortunate; for while the general statement in my note 
left on this Government the impression that war might be the alter- 
native in contemplation, the language took no such specific shape 
as to compel it to resent it as a threat. 1 

It is only justice to both Mr. Seward and Lord Russell to say 
that neither bore malice for anything that had occurred. Lord 
Russell was as cordial to my father as ever, and Mr. Seward be- 
haved in the handsomest manner. When he understood that 
"British statesmen whose opinions the President would be the 
last to undervalue, have declared that in their judgment portions 
of that communication are disrespectful and menacing toward 
Her Majesty's Government," he instructed Mr. Adams to refer 
the paper "to Earl Russell's own criticism, with the request 
that whatever expressions contained in it he shall consider ex- 
ceptionable be deemed to be hereby withdrawn." He added 
expressions of regret that any words had been used which 
might be taken as matter of offence. 2 

- This atonement for an indiscretion did not, however, reach 
London until long after the moment had passed which Mr. 
Adams had anticipated as being likely to determine the fate of 
the ministry. The crisis came in the House of Commons, 
nominally on a motion for the communication of this corre- 
spondence to Parliament, but the debate took such a form that 

1 Adams to Seward, February 11, 1864. 

2 Seward to Adams, March 2, 1864. 


the division was tantamount to a vote on a motion to censure. 
If it had been carried, the ministry must have resigned. 

As presented to Great Britain the matter in dispute had now 
risen to a level above ordinary party differences. A question 
was to be settled which touched the very foundation of English 
society, as English society was then organized, and the emotion 
was correspondingly profound. The aristocracy had broken 
down in a policy of aggression, and now the ministers who rep- 
resented that aristocracy appealed to the exponents of democ- 
racy, like Bright, Cobden, and Forster, for support. They car- 
ried the House, but only by defections from the ranks of those 
who normally should have voted to remove them and fill their 
places with more resolute men. How the handful of men who 
turned the scale would have voted had Seward's instructions of 
July ii been delivered, can only be conjectured. 

On the night of February 23, 1864, Mr. Seymour Fitzgerald, 1 
member for Horsham, moved for copies of all the papers re- 
lating to the Laird rams which were in the possession of the 
Government, and thereupon a debate arose which lawyers of 
the last generation long remembered both for its ability and its 
acrimony. Mr. 'Fitzgerald asked how it came that Earl Russell, 
having declined to interfere with the rams for lack of evidence 
down to September 3, 1863, stopped them on September 4, 
with nothing new against them save one or two depositions, de- 
scribed by Mr. Adams as "of no great additional weight." 

What passed to lead to this sudden change of opinion on the part 
of the noble Earl ? That has been answered by a despatch from 
Mr. Adams himself [to Mr. Seward] . . . dated September 8, 1863. 
It states that — "At the last moment on Saturday, I sent a despatch 
[from Earl Russell] . . . just then put into my hands, signifying 
that the decision of the Government announced in his previous note 
of the 1st instant had, under the effect of my notes on the 3d in- 
stant, been subjected to reconsideration" There, Sir, is the secret 
of the whole matter. The real truth is, that, while using language 
milder than that of the officials at Washington, Mr. Adams had yet 
used language so forcible as almost to be menacing, and in his 
despatch of the 3d September, couched in the most temperate lan- 

1 William Robert Seymour Vesey (1818-1885), son of William, second baron 
Fitzgerald, Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs under Lord Derby, 
1858-1859; governor of Bombay, 1866. The debate is reported in Hansard, 
Third Series, clxxiii. 955-1021. 


guage, the American minister pointed out distinctly that the event 
of the rams leaving the Mersey and inflicting injury on American 
commerce would infallibly lead to a war between this country and 
the United States. (Hear, hear, from ministerial benches.) I 
scarcely know what honorable gentlemen are cheering at when the 
statement I make is this, that the Government, without having any 
legal authority, and having stated that they had no legal authority 
to stop these rams, yet under the pressure of a menace held out that 
war would ensue if they did not stop them, proceeded to take that 
course. (Mr. Dunlop: Hear, hear.) Is that the statement which 
the honourable member cheers? Is it that we should have a Govern- 
ment who, having themselves announced that they had no legal 
authority for the act, yet in spite of the law seized the property of a 
British subject, because they were told by the representative of 
another power, that if they did not do so consequences would be 
serious? ... I can say, with truth, that there is no man who 
would more deprecate any difference or hostility between this 
country and the United States than myself. . . . But if I am to be 
told that the English Government, in order to avoid such a war, is 
to transgress the law and seize the property of a British subject 
without any justification, then I say that I will never approve the 
conduct of a minister who would take such a course; but, on the 
contrary, am prepared to accept any consequences [rather] than 
pursue such a line of policy. 

It fell, of course, to Sir Roundell Palmer, the legal adviser of 
the ministry, to answer Mr. Fitzgerald, and Sir RoundelPs 
speech was exceedingly characteristic, and might be called 
amusingly disingenuous. At least Sir Hugh Cairns thought it 
so. Sir Roundell first protested that it was unheard of to ask 
a Government to print its evidence in advance of a prosecution, 
although in truth it had no evidence against the Lairds, better 
or stronger than that contained in Mr. Adams' despatches, and 
the depositions annexed. He then went on to repel the accu- 
sation that the Government had yielded to menace, as Lord 
Derby had charged. 

On the whole, (said Sir Roundell,) it did not appear to the Govern- 
ment proper then [prior to September 1] to treat the vessels as liable 
to confiscation. That decision was announced to Mr. Adams on 
the 1st of September. It is said, however, that Mr. Adams, on the 
3d of September, repeated his instances, and that on the 4th an 
order was given to detain these vessels, or to prevent them from 


leaving the port of Liverpool. That order, however, was not the 
result of a decision adopted by the Government after the receipt of 
Mr. Adams' letter of the 3d of September, but, as stated in another 
place, of a decision arrived at previously. The Honorable Gentle- 
man asks whether any new information reached Earl Russell in the 
meantime. That is just the one thing contained in the papers . . . 
which we do not mean to tell him, but he may be sure that the Gov- 
ernment had grounds for what they did. 

As everybody knows now, on September 4, Earl Russell had 
nothing before him save the note of September 3, which had not 
been before him when he sent his note of September 1, nor any- 
thing of material importance which had not been before Sir 
Roundell when he gave his opinion of August 22, on which 
Earl Russell's note of September 1 was founded. What had 
happened was that by September 3 the pressure on Earl Russell 
had reached the point at which he was, as it were, thrust forward, 
and, ignoring Sir Roundell, seized the rams regardless of law. 
Sir Roundell, very naturally, did not care to enter into this; so, 
sliding over details, he advanced to the seizure, which he can- 
didly admitted to be legally indefensible. "The Honorable 
Gentleman asks what right the Government had to detain the 
ships (Mr. Seymour Fitzgerald: Hear, hear!) The Honorable 
Gentleman cries 'hear'; but I do not hesitate to say boldly, 
and in the face of the country, that the Government, on their 
own responsibility, detained them." 

On the merits of his case Sir Roundell had made fatal admis- 
sions, and Sir Hugh Cairns, who was a much stronger lawyer 
than Sir Roundell, impaled him without mercy on the dilemma 
he presented: 

I find that Earl Russell on the 27th of March last, . . . said that 
he wished the United States Government to understand that he 
considered the case of the Alabama and the Oreto to be a scandal. 
. . . What did Earl Russell mean by saying that the case of the 
Alabama and the Oreto was a scandal? Did he mean that it was a 
scandal because, having laws to punish such a case, we did not 
enforce them? The Under Secretary of State shakes his head at 
this. Well, then, did Earl Russell mean that it was a scandal that 
we had no laws to punish such cases ? He must have meant one of 
these two things. . . . Now, let us suppose that the noble Lord 
thought the case of the Alabama and the Oreto was a scandal because 


that, having laws to punish, they were not put in force. Then . . . 
I want to know this . . . why did not the Government indict the 
persons who admitted openly that they had sent the Alabama out 
of the country? ... If the noble Earl meant that it was a scandal 
because, having laws, those laws were not enforced, I want to know 
why the Government has not put them into force? . . . 

Now let us take the other branch of the dilemma. Did the noble 
Earl mean that the case was a scandal, because we had not a better 
law to deal with the cases of the Alabama and the Oreto? Then, I 
ask, why have not the Government . . . proposed an alteration of 
the law? . . . Then, again, we have upon the very same day, a 
declaration from the noble Lord at the head of the Government. 
While the noble Earl was sending off his despatch to the Govern- 
ment of the United States, the noble Lord [Palmerston] said in this 
House, as to any alteration of our law: "I do hope and trust that 
the people and Government of the United States will believe that 
we are doing our best in every case to execute that law; but they 
must not imagine that any cry which may be raised will induce us 
to come down to this House with a proposal to alter the law. We 
have had — I have had — some experience of what any attempt of 
that sort may be expected to lead to, and I think there are several 
gentlemen sitting on this bench who would not be disposed, if I 
were so inclined myself, to concur in any such proposition." . . . 

We are told that these words of the noble Earl [reproach and 
scandal] . . . were referred to elsewhere, and the noble Earl was asked 
to explain them. The noble Earl explained them in this way. He 
said in substance: "I adhere to the opinion, and my reason is this: 
How can you describe in any other words an act of Parliament as 
to which the chief of one of our courts of law has said, ' You might 
sail a fleet of ships through it'?" . . . Will the House believe it 
possible that the noble Earl could have fallen into the error I am 
going to expose? What that very eminent and learned person said 
was this: 

"If I were to adopt the construction which the Crown desires to 
put upon the Foreign Enlistment Act, which I do not adopt, which 
I reprobate as false and erroneous, then, indeed, you might not 
drive a coach and six, but might sail a fleet of ships through the 
act of Parliament." . . . 

We have had another confession from the Government to-night. 
. . . They send down an officer of the Admiralty to deal . with the 
owners for the sale of their ships. I was quite amused at the manner 
in which the Attorney- General [Sir Roundell Palmer] dealt with this. 
He said, "Well, it was a very kind thing, a very humane thing." 


... I want the Attorney-General to tell me what does he think of 
dealing with a man around whose neck the Government has got 
the fangs and talons of the revenue officers. . . . Was that fair deal- 
ing? Was that a seller and buyer ... on an even footing? The 
Government with its hands upon the ships, . . . saying to the 
builder, "Come, now, sell us these ships; let us buy them of you." 
But what is the climax? The climax is this: The month of Febru- 
ary comes at last. Parliament meets, and the information can no 
longer be delayed. It must be filed, and then we have the last 
letter from the Treasury to Messrs. Laird, which I hope the House 
will have printed for its perusal in the * papers about to be 
produced. . . . 

(Immediate) Treasury Chambers, February 8, 1864. 

Gentlemen, — In reply to your letter of the 3rd instant, I am commanded 
... to acquaint you that ... an information in the case of the iron-clads 
vessels built by you, and now under seizure by Her Majesty's Government, will 
be filed in a few days, and that it may be necessary to send a commission, 
abroad for the purpose of collecting evidence. 

George A. Hamilton. 

Messrs. Laird Brothers. 

Collecting evidence! The seizure, according to the Government 
could only be made upon evidence, and four months after the seiz- 
ure the Government are going to collect evidence abroad. Sir, we 
have not got many papers from the Government this year, but I 
trust the House will insist upon the production of these. 

Among the bitter speeches of that night, the bitterest was 
Lord Robert Cecil's, he who afterward became famous as the 
Marquis of Salisbury. 

I should not address the House, said he, if I saw any inclination 
among the honourable gentlemen opposite to rise, but they will not, 
as in the refusal of information and the absence of discussion lie 
perhaps their only means of safety. 

The Honourable and Learned Gentleman [Sir Roundell Palmer] 
spoke of the language of Mr. Adams as only slightly passing the 
bounds of moderation. Perhaps he might admit that Mr. Adams* 
own language warranted that description; but Mr. Adams was the 
representative of a foreign Government, and that Government had 
used language to which the designation . . . was scarcely appli- 
cable. What of Mr. Seward's despatch of the nth of July? . . . 
Mr. Seward's language was as follows: 

" Can it be an occasion for either surprise or complaint that, if this 
condition of things is to remain and receive the deliberate sanction 


of the British Government, the navy of the United States will re- 
ceive instructions to pursue these enemies into the ports which 
thus, in violation of the law of nations and the obligations of neu- 
trality, become harbors for the pirates. The President very dis- 
tinctly perceives the risks and hazards which a naval conflict thus 
maintained will bring to . . . the two countries. But . . .if, 
through the necessary employment of all our means of national 
defence, such a partial war shall become a general one between the 
two nations, the President thinks that the responsibility for that 
painful result will not fall upon the United States." 

That was a distinct threat of war. . . . What he wanted to im- 
press on the House was, that throughout these proceedings there 
had been a threat of war on the part of the United States. The 
Government had failed to obtain from courts of law and from Brit- 
ish juries that application of the law which it desired, and conse- 
quently the only course that was open to it . . . was to procure the 
utmost possible delay. . . . They were threatened by the United 
States; they knew they were unable to obtain a decision in their 
favor in the courts of law; after the threats which had been made 
by the United States they did not dare to come to the House of 
Commons for an alteration of the law. What were they to do? 
The only course open to them was to lengthen out the proceedings 
to the greatest possible extent. ... But that was not the most 
important part of the speech of the Honorable and Learned Gen- 
tleman. We had had a distinct avowal that the Government had 
broken the law. The Honorable and Learned Gentleman had ac- 
knowledged that, upon their own responsibility, without any au- 
thority from the law, they had ventured to stop vessels which had 
a legal right to leave the country. Now, it seemed to him that it 
would be an evil day in our history when it was recorded that the 
Government, under threats of war from a foreign power, . . . had 
broken through every right which the subject possessed, . . . had 
seized his property in violation of the law, and that then Parliament 
had taken no notice whatever of such an illegality. . . . Was there 
any other period of our history at which such an act would have 
been permitted? Was there any other period at which it would have 
been endured that the Government should violate the rights of the 
subject in deference to a foreign power, and yet that Parliament 
should take no notice of the matter? . . . 

They had been accused of being the "most docile" House of Com- 
mons that ever existed, of "sneaking to their places," of allowing 
ministers to do what they pleased. They should really merit that 
charge ... if they quietly received the threats of a foreign power, 



if they permitted ministers to use all the delay and procrastination 
of the law for the purpose of crushing the subject, if they allowed 
Her Majesty's Government to break the law, and if they suffered 
them at the same time to avow that they did it on behalf of those 
who had addressed to them threats of war. 

Every one of these charges made by the opposition against 
Lord Palmerston's administration was not only true, but was 
admitted to be true, and had they stood alone, they would have 
ruined any body of public men who had held office in England 
since the accession of William III. But they did not stand alone; 
the great question loomed behind, whether the opposition dared 
to take office on the issue of liberating the rams. That ques- 
tion was put by Mr. Forster, and it was answered in the negative. 

Any honourable gentleman who was in the habit of watching 
the news which came from America would be aware that for 
months previous to the detention of these rams a fear was ex- 
pressed in the North, and a hope in the South, that they would 
issue forth; and that being so, and the Government having reason 
to believe that the rams were intended for the Confederate Gov- 
ernment, they took upon themselves the responsibility of detain- 
ing them. . . . Well, then, if the noble Lord or Honourable gentle- 
men opposite thought that the Government deserved a vote of 
censure for so doing, let them boldly propose such a vote, and 
say that they would not have done the same thing. . . . The 
noble Lord seemed to think lightly of a war with America; but 
that was not the feeling of the country, nor did he believe it 
could be the feeling of the opposition generally. 

The certainty of war should the rams be allowed to sail — 
that was all the defence Earl Russell had to allege in answer to 
some of the gravest accusations which had been made against 
any minister of the Crown since the Revolution of 1688. In 
186 1 a series of questions had arisen touching to the quick the 
national honor and the national good faith. After mature 
reflection the Palmerston Cabinet, speaking through their 
official organ, Sir Roundell Palmer, then Solicitor-General, 
had, on March 27, 1863, expounded their view of the law to 
Parliament in these words: "The United States Government 
have no right to complain of the Act in question; the Foreign 
Enlistment Act is enforced in the way in which the English laws 


are usually enforced against English subjects." Afterward 
the Government had tested the law and, according to Sir Roun- 
dell Palmer, the courts had held it to be lawful for English 
subjects to build and send abroad such vessels as the rams, 
provided they disguised their purpose to sell to a belligerent 
under certain transparent subterfuges. Eminent counsel had 
given the Lairds similar advice, acting on which the Lairds had 
built these rams, apparently lawfully, and when they were 
ready to sail the Government had seized them, without color of 
law, and had held them by military force, without a trial, and 
without even specifying grounds of complaint. 

"I suppose," said Sir Hugh Cairns, "I am not going too 
far in saying that if any but a large and well-established house 
with great resources had been subjected to an occurrence of 
this kind, it must have occasioned its ruin." And the seizure 
had not been made with the honest purpose of bringing those 
ships to trial, that was implicitly admitted, but with the pur- 
pose of forcing the owners into selling their property because 
they could not hold it until their title could be determined 
by a court. " Surely," said Sir Hugh, " in a case of this sort, . . . 
where the property was of the value of nearly a quarter of a 
million of money, . . . surely it was the duty of the Govern- 
ment, ... to use promptitude and despatch to bring the case 
to trial. Well, now, will the House believe it, that from the 
9th day of October until the 8th day of February, which is 
exactly four months, not a single step was taken, no information 
was filed in the Exchequer; and I do not think I am going 
too far when I say that if this House had not assembled a very 
few days before that time [February 4], the information would 
not have been filed to this day?" 

Upon such premises it was impossible to refute Sir Hugh's 
conclusion. "The seizure of these vessels, . . . raises consti- 
tutional questions of as great importance — I say so deliber- 
ately — as were ever brought before this House. I speak with 
full consciousness of the gravity of the expressions I use, when 
I charge the Government — let there be no mistake — I 
charge the Government with having done, and after hearing 
the Attorney- General to-night, I say having done, on their 
own confession, what was illegal and unconstitutional, without 
law, without justification, and without excuse." 


Thomas Baring was the most eminent of the Conservatives 
who voted against their party. Probably there were not half 
a dozen men on that side of the House who exceeded him in 
influence. Born in 1799, he had sat in Parliament since 1835, 
continuously, except between the years 1837 and 1844. He 
had been offered the Chancellorship of the Exchequer in Lord 
Derby's administrations of 1852 and 1858, and was beside not 
only the head of one of the first banking houses in the world, 
but was one of the most prominent men socially in London. 
He, for all intents and purposes, closed the debate in these 
words: "This I would say in conclusion, that if the speeches 
of my Right Honorable friend and the Honorable and 
learned member for Belfast [Sir Hugh Cairns] are to be 
taken as furnishing the grounds on which we are to divide 
tonight, they seem to me to have arrived, by simply moving 
for these papers, at a most lame and impotent conclusion. Why 
do not they at once move a vote of censure on the Government, 
or on the Law Officers of the Crown for the course which they 
have pursued? For my own part, I offer to the noble Lord, 
the Foreign Secretary, and to those Gentlemen by whom he is 
advised in those matters, although I think they are open to 
grave censure for not having prevented the departure of the 
Alabama, my thanks for their conduct on this occasion." With 
that speech the motion died. As Mr. Adams said, Thomas 
Baring had demolished Lord Derby's "castle of cards." 

I doubt if an issue involving the stability of their class has 
ever been presented more lucidly to an aristocracy within a 
legislative chamber where they controlled, and if, on such an 
issue coming to a vote, an aristocracy ever before so quietly 
and so, apparently, voluntarily abdicated. Sometimes there 
has been an appeal, as, in the case of the Reform Bill, to an 
election, but more frequently to arms. 

When the American Civil War broke out in 1861, the British 
aristocracy decided to sever the American Union to strengthen 
themselves. As the conflict deepened, they perceived that to 
sever the Union the blockade of the South by the North must 
be raised v Not daring to raise the blockade with the British 
navy, because of fear of British democracy, the aristocracy 
undertook to build and deliver a navy to the South. They 
built the ships, but, when it came to delivering them, they 


flinched before the North, even though to effect a delivery 
they had prostituted their judges and degraded their courts. 

Then the minister who flinched turned upon the subject 
who was only exercising his rights, as those rights had been de- 
fined by the judges to whom the aristocracy had appealed, 
and took from him his property by military force. The aris- 
tocracy had to determine whether they would remove that 
minister who had betrayed them, and substitute another to 
carry out their policy to the end, or whether they would capitu- 
late. They voted by a majority of twenty-five to capitulate, 
and the majority was not partisan. 

I take my father to have been the profoundest observer of 
British society of any foreigner of his time, and from the 4th 
of February, when he had heard Lord Derby question Lord 
Russell on the opening night of the session, he had anticipated 
some such result. Lord Derby, in his opinion, did not rise to 
the level of the emergency. He was not eager to fight the 
issue to the end. On February 25 Mr. Adams wrote to tell 
Mr. Seward, that the opposition had gathered courage enough 
to worry the Government on its foreign policy, but that it was 
not ready to take office and reverse it. " It does not appear that 
they are prepared with any different measures. The struggle 
looks more like a trial of strength in view of future operations. 
On this issue the division is not strictly a party one. The 
majority is greater than the strength of the ministry could 
command." 1 

And yet the balance hung so even that it seemed that a hair 
might incline it to either side. The danger was weakness; 
that war might result from the impotence of the power which 
temporarily held it in check. Six weeks later Mr. Adams 
wrote again: I " earnestly hope that our efforts" in the field 
"may be crowned with success, otherwise it is much to be appre- 
hended that the causes of offence may be accumulated to such 
an extent on this side as to render escape from a conflict 
almost impossible. Nothing will keep down the malevolent 
spirit that pervades the higher classes, but the conviction that 
there is no hope left of effecting a permanent disruption of the 
United States." 2 

1 Adams to Seward, February 25, 1864. 

2 Adams to Seward, April 4, 1864. 


Probably he was right in this forecast, as he usually was 
right in his forecasts when in England. Lord Palmerston's 
Government could not have held the rams much longer without 
trial, and to try them would have involved great risk. Min- 
isters were, even when Mr. Adams wrote, casting about for 
some means of controlling Pollock, but the chances were not 
promising that such an Attorney-General as Sir Roundell would 
succeed in coercing the Chief Baron, especially when sitting 
with a Liverpool jury. With a verdict against the Crown, 
the danger would have been acute. The knot was cut, as 
Mr. Adams thought that it must ultimately be cut, by the 
collapse of the South. The blockade had done its work. The 
Confederacy was already financially exhausted, and when 
Grant and Sherman were beginning their last advance nothing 
could be spared from home defence for the purpose of sustaining 
what had become speculative investments abroad. As early 
as February 14, 1864, the Lairds showed signs of distress. 
Through Bravay they intimated a willingness to sell for £300,000. 
This was an attempt to extort money from the Ministry, before 
the debate. After the debate the price of the rams rapidly 
fell, and on May 26, 1864, they were finally bought by the 
Admiralty for £195,000 down and £25,000 more contingent 
upon their satisfactory completion. 

Looked at from the standpoint of American history, purely, 
the debate in the House of Commons, on February 23, 1864, and 
the division which closed the debate, are memorable, but they 
have beside a larger significance. After Waterloo England 
became the heart of modern civilization, the centre of the 
world's economic system, and as such she wielded, until Feb- 
ruary, 1864, a supremacy which was, in substance, unques- 
tioned. On that night she abdicated, and her supremacy 
has never returned. That act, which indicated a change in the 
economic and military equilibrium of mankind at large, indi- 
cated a still profounder change in the social status at home. 
The action of the House marked the rise of new social forces, 
the advent of a new ruling class. The next step was broader 
enfranchisement, and the formation of a radical Cabinet with 
Mr. Gladstone at its head. The type of English aristocrat 
represented by Lord Palmers ton had been discarded. 

Whatever may have been the failings of this elder type of 


man it had never been backward in fight, and if England had 
won supremacy she had paid for it with her blood. The proof 
that the species was decaying is that the United States succeeded 
in swaying England by an apparent readiness for war, when 
she had, in fact, little or no physical force at command. Nor 
did this failure of English martial energy manifest itself in 
relation to America alone. 

As on the western continent a consolidated democratic re- 
public appeared to be rising on the ruin of a slave-holding 
oligarchy, so in central Europe the fragments of Germany 
showed signs of cohering in what promised to be a threatening 
military empire. In February, 1864, the Prussians and Aus- 
trians began to dismember Denmark by occupying Schleswig. 
In the dismemberment of Denmark, England had a substantial 
interest, for the absorption of the duchies would give to Prussia 
not only a deep-water harbor on the Baltic but the possession 
of a canal route to the North Sea. This would make it possible 
for Prussia to become a considerable maritime power; and yet 
Great Britain's stake in the centralization of Germany was 
trivial compared to her stake in the American Civil War. 

From the outset all Englishmen intuitively perceived that 
the social equilibrium of English society must be determined 
by the victory of freedom or of slavery in the West. Power in 
England hinged on the restriction or the extension of the suffrage. 
Hitherto, speaking broadly, the landed gentry had predom- 
inated, but, if the franchise were to be extended widely, none 
could tell whither power might migrate. Certainly it would not 
remain with those who then enjoyed it. Therefore the aristoc- 
racy and the proletariat took sides passionately, the aristocracy 
assuming that if the South should prevail the enfranchisement of 
the proletariat might be indefinitely postponed, the proletariat 
accepting it as an axiom that their fortunes were bound up with 
the fortunes of the North. On February 23, 1864, the aris- 
tocracy admitted defeat and formally recorded their surrender. 
And so rapid had been the progress of their decay that they 
surrendered to an ultimatum which two years before would 
certainly have provoked only defiance. They surrendered be- 
cause their ally, the South, had collapsed. During the American 
conflict the vitality of the English aristocracy had run to its 
lees, so that when the Danish difficulty began other social 


forces predominated; but of this profound movement Lord 
Palmerston and Lord Russell were only very imperfectly con- 
scious. Mr. Gladstone, on the contrary, had received a power- 
ful stimulant from his experiment at Newcastle. As Lord 
Palmerston remained reactionary, favoring war and opposing 
the extension of the suffrage, so, conversely, Mr. Gladstone, 
as soon as an opportunity offered after the surrender of Feb- 
ruary 23, 1864, plunged into the gulf on whose brink he had 
been shivering. On May 11, 1864, he unexpectedly propounded 
the dogma, in the House of Commons, that every male British 
subject, of full age, and under no ''personal unfitness, had a 
moral right" to vote. Gladstone pretended to be surprised at 
the sensation which followed, and ascribed it to a change in 
his "hearers and in the public mind"; but Lord Morley has 
likened his words to a "thunderbolt." At all events they agi- 
tated the gentry; and Lord Palmerston, who incarnated the 
spirit of the gentry, wrote to Gladstone that he had offended 
"all persons who value the maintenance of our institutions." 

This speech on the suffrage marked the dividing line between 
Gladstone the conservative and high churchman, who had rep- 
resented the University of Oxford, and Gladstone the radical 
and latitudinarian, who disestablished the Irish Church, 
advocated "home rule" and who sat for Midlothian. In the 
first encounter after his conversion, Mr. Gladstone completely 
routed Lord Palmerston. Almost while Mr. Gladstone was de- 
claring himself a radical in the House, Lord Palmerston, without 
consulting his colleagues, told Count Apponyi, the Austrian 
minister, that, should Austria send a fleet to the Baltic, he would 
order a stronger one thither from England, or resign his office. 
Very possibly Lord Palmerston may have meant what he said 
when he threatened to resign, but he loved office too well to 
make his threat good, when put to the test. When Lord Palmer- 
ston presented his proposition to his cabinet, he found Mr. 
Gladstone in full control. Mr. Gladstone, as a radical, would 
listen to no suggestion of war, nor, as he said himself, would he 
"recognize in any way the title of the Prime Minister to bind 
us" to a policy. Lord Morley has described what occurred at 
the meeting. 

Palmerston and Russell were for war, even though it would be 
war single-handed. . . . They bemoaned to one another the ti- 


midity of their colleagues, and half-mournfully contrasted the con- 
venient ciphers that filled the Cabinets of Pitt and Peel, with the 
number of able men with independent opinions in their own admin- 
istration. The Prime Minister, as I have heard from one who was 
present, held his head down while the talk proceeded, and then at 
last looking up said in a neutral voice, "I think the Cabinet is 
against war." x 

Lord Palmerston saw clearly where all this tended. One day 
he said to Lord Shaftesbury, " Gladstone will soon have it all 
his own way; and, whenever he gets my place, we shall have 
strange doings. " Lord Palmerston tried to make Gladstone's 
seat for the University of Oxford secure, because " he is a dan- 
gerous man; keep him in Oxford and he is partially muzzled; 
but send him elsewhere, and he will run wild." 2 

On June 27, 1865, Lord Russell admitted in the House of 
Lords that his negotiations had broken down and that Denmark 
must be abandoned. This avowal was followed by an explosion 
of shame and indignation at the pusillanimous conduct of 
England who, having encouraged Denmark to resist, deserted 
her at the approach of danger. Motions of censure were made 
in both Houses. That in the Lords was carried by nine votes. 
In the Commons the debate fell on July 5, and Mr. Adams, 
who attended the debate, has noted in his diary that Mr. Cobden 
told him how Lord Palmerston had favored sending the fleet 
to the last, and had only given way when assured by Mr. Brand, 
the whipper in, that, on sounding the party, he had found so 
many members to be convinced that their constituents would 
not support war, that Palmerston would be badly beaten on a 
division if he persevered. Although not a voice was raised in 
defence of Earl Russell, this retreat saved the Ministry for 
another year, but only because Lord Derby and the Tories were 
too feeble and too timid to assume responsibility. Therefore 
Lord Russell continued at the Foreign Office, and he so em- 
broiled Great Britain with the United States, on the issue of the 
settlement of the Alabama Claims, that he nearly succeeded in 
making arbitration impossible. 

The inevitable result followed. On July 6, 1865, Parliament 
was dissolved, and Mr. Gladstone, who had represented the 

1 Morley, Life of Gladstone, n. 117, 118. 

2 Hodder, Life and Work of the Earl of Shaftesbury, m. 187, 188. 



University of Oxford for eighteen years, was defeated. He 
found another seat in Lancashire, near his new friends, Bright 
and Forster. As he told his future constituents, he came among 
them " unmuzzled"; and perhaps for that reason he was so 
suspected even there that he stood third on the poll, with two 
Tories above him. The country returned a House of Commons 
with a majority of eighty, nominally pledged to support Lord 
Palmerston, but Lord Palmerston died in October, and even 
had he lived, he could not have stayed the democratic tide 
which surged onward after Appomattox. Obeying that mysteri- 
ous impulsion which often, in moments of emergency, guides a 
cabinet more truly than it guides a popular assembly, Lord 
Russell and Mr. Gladstone brought in a moderate Reform Bill, 
but they were opposed and finally beaten by the gentry, among 
their party, of the stripe of Lord Palmerston. Plainly, the exist- 
ing constituencies no longer reflected the energy of the nation. 
Mr. Robert Lowe, who had held ofiice under Lord Palmerston, 
led the Whig opposition to reform, and between him and Mr. 
Gladstone the contest waxed hot. One day Lowe asked a 
question putting the issue with a bluntness which, though 
successful in the House, roused resentment among the dis- 
franchised. "If," said he,' "you wanted venality, ignorance, 
drunkenness — if you wanted impulsive, unreflecting, violent 
people — where do you look for them? Do you go to the top 
or to the bottom?" Gladstone retorted that there were those 
who, when they computed an addition to the electorate, regarded 
it as they might an invading army, but these prospective voters 
"are our own fellow subjects, . . . our own flesh and blood," 
men "who have been lauded to the skies for their good conduct." 
So Gladstone became the popular hero, overtopping even Bright. 
A few weeks after, during the Reform riots, the mob flocked to 
his house, shouting for Gladstone and liberty, and the police 
had to beg Mrs. Gladstone, who happened to be alone, to show 
herself on the balcony in order to induce the multitude to dis- 
perse. At last Mr. Gladstone had fairly hit his mark, and yet 
Mr. Gladstone with all his popularity could not move an unin- 
timidated Palmerstonian House of Commons. Mr. Robert Lowe, 
who should have followed him, beat him at every point. Ac- 
cording to Mr. Gladstone, Mr. Lowe "supplied the whole brains 
of the opposition," and "had such a command of the House as 


had never in my recollection been surpassed." Finally, on 
June 26, Lord Russell's Ministry resigned, Lord Derby and the 
Tories succeeded, and Mr. Lowe, as Lord Morley has said, 
" believed for the moment that he had really slain the horrid 
Demogorgon." x His exultation was short-lived. When it 
appeared that Parliament was opposed to enfranchisement, 
agitation began. On July 22, 1866, the radicals called a meeting 
in Hyde Park. The Government forbade the meeting, and sent 
what police they could muster to hold the gates. A vast multi- 
tude assembled, threw down the railings, and swept the police 
aside. No attempt was made to clear the Park, nor, probably, 
could the Park have been cleared by any military force the 
Government had at hand. Mr. Adams walked to the Park next 
day, and was deeply impressed. The grass was brown as if by 
fire, "and the crowd looking on and enjoying the spectacle 
were certainly not of the class which ordinarily frequents the 
region. It was the first growl of reform. The rising for a mo- 
ment to the surface of that fearful beast which ordinarily lies 
hidden far down at the bottom. The remarkable part of the 
spectacle was the order and quiet generally preserved." One 
growl was enough. Liberals and Conservatives combined to 
give all that was asked and more, and then, while Mr. Disraeli 
nominally led the House, Mr. Gladstone and Mr. Bright from 
the opposition benches dictated to him how he should frame 
his statute. The aristocracy were thoroughly cowed. Lord 
Morley has told the story of that session: 

The process effecting this wide extension of political power to 
immense classes hitherto without it, was in every way extraordi- 
nary. The great reform was carried by a Parliament elected to 
support Lord Palmerston, and Lord Palmerston detested reform. 
It was carried by a Government in a decided minority. It was 
carried by a minister [Disraeli] and by a leader of opposition 
[Gladstone], neither of whom was at the time in the full confidence 
of his party. Finally it was carried by a House of Commons that 
the year before had, in effect, rejected a measure for the admission 
of only 400,000 new voters, while the measure to which it now as- 
sented added almost a million voters to the electorate. 2 

So far as it goes, Lord Morley's account of this Parliament is 
admirable and yet he has omitted what is, to Americans, the 
1 Morley, Life of Gladstone, 11. 205. 2 lb. n. 226. 


most interesting phenomenon of all. He has not pointed out, 
what nevertheless is true, that the proletariat won enfranchise- 
ment when their pressure combined with the pressure of the 
United States prevented the censure of Lord Russell, by the 
House of Commons, for the seizure of the Laird Rams. 
These are the facts, as I understand them, which, when arranged 
in due relation to each other, elucidate the scope of the work 
that Mr. Adams did during the first period of his public 
service abroad. I have now only to sum up concisely the con- 
clusions which I conceive follow from these premises. 

For just one hundred years prior to the election of Abraham 
Lincoln to the presidency, the aristocratic principle in England 
had been striving to subdue the democratic principle in America, 
and to that end had fought two wars from which democracy 
had escaped, as it were, by a miracle. In large part democracy 
in America had been saved by means of a union with a slave- 
holding oligarchy, a union which would have been impossible 
under pressure less severe. Suddenly the bond, designed to 
fuse these discordant elements in a single organism, burst 
asunder and, in 1861, the North found herself hemmed in be- 
tween the slave-holding and the British aristocracies, which 
were natural allies. To conquer the South, were the South 
unaided by England, strained the North to the limit of endur- 
ance. She gradually massed eight hundred thousand fighting 
men on the Southern fields of battle, but when she had done this 
she left herself without fleet or army to resist a foreign foe. 
Therefore she had to confide the defence of her Atlantic coast, 
facing England, to her diplomats, for other defenders she had 
none. The problem presented to these men was intellectual and 
not dynamical. It was the restraint of England by an idea, 
for if Great Britain should once join the South, nothing could 
save the North from overthrow. 

Desperate as the situation seemed at first to the two states- 
men, who were in charge in Washington and London, they 
presently perceived one path to safety. They might be able to 
bring the disfranchised and discontented classes of Great 
Britain to support the North in such wise as to paralyze Lord 
Palmerston's Government, provided their adversary could 
find no such occasion against them as would incense the whole 
British people. Indeed the English aristocracy somewhat 

191 1. ] SAMUEL ALLEYNE OTIS, 1 788. 333 

resembled an angry snake, relatively harmless until coiled, 
but deadly if permitted to gather itself. With infinite patience, 
skill and courage, Mr. Seward and Mr. Adams addressed them- 
selves to their task, changing their tactics to meet the varying 
stratagems of their adversary as he saw his feints successively 
foiled, but always pressing him as strongly as they dared. 
Thus they passed from the passive flexibility by which they eluded 
the peril of the Trent, to the stern but measured onset by which 
they forced the seizure of the rams. Finally the aristocracy, 
unable to consolidate its forces, capitulated. The vote of the 
Commons on February 23, 1864, marks an epoch in civilization. 
As in my age I meditate upon the scenes I saw in my youth, 
as I ponder upon the disparity between the bleeding North and 
the exultant England of my boyhood, as I recall the ferocity 
of the passions which once seethed about me and consider the 
magnitude of the interests which were then at stake, and as 
in the midst of these memories I pause to reflect that during 
those harassing years a single moment of weakness, a single 
error of judgment, must have precipitated the fatal catastrophe, 
I realize at last that I shall search the records of modern diplo- 
macy in vain for such another masterpiece. 

Mr. Winslow Warren read a portion of a letter from Samuel 
Alleyne Otis to James Warren. The letter is as follows: 

New York, April 26th [or 24th], 1788. 

Dear Sir, — Your favor 23d March have before me, and attribut- 
ing your silence to the pressure of public business, without suspecting 
a want of attention from you, anticipated your apology. Last 
evening reed, also yours 13th Instant; and to both shall make the 
necessary reply. Elections were under the first article. Upon 
which did I not recollect some striking instances of their precarious 
nature I should feel a greater dissappointment. By what I can learn 
there does not appear to be a choice of L. Govr. by the people; of 
course the same ground is to be traversed in General Court. Mr. H. 
carries all before him, and altho I supposed he would be elected, 
I had great expectation, from what you observed, that his com- 
petitor would have stood higher. The sale to Messrs. Gorham & 
Phelps is estimated by some of my friends as an advantageous one. 
I confess, if they are so obligated as to make the payments sure and 
punctual, it appears to be a good sale; under all circumstances. 
There is a glutt of Land at Market of which the U. S. A. hold two 


hundred million acres. I am obliged for your attention to my par- 
ticular finances. As to adjourning farther South, it will not prob- 
ably take place under the present Confederation. What a new 
Year may effect, or the New System you have so much at heart may 
produce, depends upon various contingencies. 

In regard to the accumulated and increasing debt of the Union, 
some people give broad hints that it will be paid with a sponge; 
which I think under our present weak and resourceless circumstances, 
will be a natural Consequence. Under a new energetic Government, 
I hear some politicians say, our inability is an insuperable bar to 
payment. The same men say resources might be pointed to of 
importance sufficient to pay an interest of 3 per Ct: And I am of 
opinion could the debt be funded at 3 per Ct. the holders of securi- 
ties left at their option to reloan at three, or take their chance of 
unfunded securities at six, the bulk of the debt would be reloaned. 
To this it may be said the cry of injustice will be sett up; as it 
would indubitably at a sponge. Upon which I reply, in the first 
place, that, upon the whole, which will effect most extensive justice, 
to the greatest number of individuals, must be done. In the second 
place whats done by consent takes away error. And lastly, if it 
shall appear impracticable to effect more than three per Cent, will 
not necessity, which is paramount to all law, justify the measure? 
You will reply let this necessity be made apparent prior to such 
proceeding; in which I am perfectly agreed. Before I go from the 
subject, I am induced to think that under our present impoverished 
circumstances, could any measures be devised to fund our debt, and 
make sacred appropriations for the interest at even less than three 
per Ct. it would reanimate a dead mass of useless paper, and in- 
stantly make it an efficient Capital, for the farmer, the merchant, 
the manufacturer, and every man in the Community. 

Whether "regeneration" is necessary to induce N. England, my 
honored Country, to adopt the New System or not, you who are in 
one of its largest States can form the best judgment. But am confi- 
dent without that miraculous change, they will find the necessity 
of that, or one very like it. For as to the old wheel it wont budge 
an inch, and seems shattered to pieces. That some of the old spokes, 
and perhaps felloes, may do again I have no doubt, but that the nave 
must be taken out, and the whole worked over again appears to me 
indispensible. I do not form my judgment altogether upon what 
information I get from Boston, but compare it with that from my 
friends at Milton, and other parts of the state. Puting all which 
together, the result seems to be that, N. Hampshire are divided, 
and so is R. I. The majority of one, I am convinced are against 

igil.] SAMUEL ALLEYNE OTIS, 1788. 335 

federal measures, and possibly of both. As to N. Y. one party are 
sure of adoption, another as positive it will be rejected. So no 
judgment can be formed. Some think Govr. Clinton will be elected 
for the City, which I doubt. He will come in however by a hand- 
some majority for Ulster County. Maryland by a very large major- 
ity will accede; so will So. Carolina. N. Carolina will probably 
operate as Virginia, which State I think will be nearly divided; 
But I rather think from the best information attainable, the majority 
will carry it for adopting, with amendments, upon the plan of Massa- 
chusetts. I have heard in the Circles here, you, or sister W. have 
written the Columbian patriot. I suspect you, but wish to have 
it ascertained; for the purposes only of curiosity believe me. 

To your demand, to know what we are doing in Congress, I 
answer — Nothing. To your enquiry what have we done? I answer 
— almost nothing — yet I dont know that those who have attended, 
which Massachusetts have incessantly, are to be blamed. The 
States have been in such a flutter about the New, that they have 
hardly paid attention to the old Government. One week we have 
nine States, then again we have only four or five; for to my surprise 
the Members are under no kind of control, and take themselves 
away whenever they think proper. The State of N. York particu- 
larly altho there are sometimes two or three members in Town, 
have for weeks together, had only a single member present. What 
is to be done? Massachusetts, and I presume others have written 
to their Legislatures upon the subject. Is more in their power? 
Most of the members are either of the Convention, or just before 
election dance down to the Hustings, and whether they are success- 
ful candidates or not, their attendance upon Congress is withdrawn. 
We have a prospect however of a full House in May, when we shall 
soon finish the more important business, and if the States agree, 
follow our instructions in organizing the new Government, and 
secede. The doing it before is courting encroachment, and leaving 
the people to the mercy of any rude invader, — and I am not ready 
for despotism. Your refusal to christen " Parson's bantling," and 
"an Eccho to the Speech," shews a formidable combination is 
effected against the doings of convention. By the way, the Govr. 
was offended at Thacher and self for addressing the Legislature, 
other ways than thro him, which we did upon the supposition it was 
usually done while they were in sessions; However he refused, and 
gave this as a reason for not signing the resolve, empowering the 
delegates to procure a plan of the Line. I am perswaded heretofore 
communications have been thus made. 

I informed Mr. Walker your ballance was ready, and upon its 


appearing that the money received is identified, he says no objec- 
tion can be made to receiving it. Farther I have requested him to 
give me on paper the objections, informalities etc, which require 
answer and remedy, and I will communicate them; which he assures 
me shall be done without delay. I will very chearfully attend the 
settlement and if in my power effect it. The other matter is still 
at the Tresury Board, Mr. Osgood informs me, that he hourly 
expects the returns from the commissioners, and if it shall appear 
that the U. S. A. have not paid the difference between 40 and 75 
they will allow it. As for the recovery of your depreciation I see no 
great prospect of it. Congress have refered this business to the 
Tresury board before I came on; The Tresury Board have given 
an opinion in many instances against admiting new demands for 
depreciation, and in yours amongst the rest, and to me have repeated 
it as an impracticability. So that I confess I know not how to get 
forward in the business. I will again converse [with] the board and 
effect everything in my power. 

You will oblige Lebaron & Hamatt to forward me their Charter 
party of Schooner Dispatch, having requested me to close the 
account for them. Upon application to the office where the Navy 
Board papers were lodged; I am informed no Charter parties were 
forwarded, which I wonder at. 

Love to Sister and the family from 

Yours very affectionately, 

Sam. A. Otis. 

Mr. Walker says the ballance is £68263. 18.3 agreeably to cor- 
rected Cash book, by the Vouchers. They are so very minute and 
scrupulous, I see no chance of a speedy settlement unless Mr. Hen- 
derson would come on. But I suppose in that case they would 
allow nothing for expences. 

I will forward Mr. Walker's objections however under his own 

Upon perusal of the papers I am fully perswaded the ribaldry 
flung at you by your enemies will tend more to make you friends 
than anything else, and if their spleen had not blinded them they 
would see the natural consequence. 

John Sullivan was one of the Sargents who led the mutiny and 
assaulted Congress in Philadelphia; afterwards fled for misdemean- 
ors into the Western world. Tis supposed he was concerned in 
mordering some Spanyards and is a very dangerous desperate 
character. Harmar has an order to take him as a dangerous enimy 
to the U. S. A. 


Mr. Winslow Warren also presented to the Society the coats 
of arms of the Paddy and Wensley families, which had been in 
the possession of Edward Winslow, of Plymouth, a brother of 
General John Winslow, the loyalist, who removed to Nova 
Scotia and died there in 1784. A daughter, Elizabeth, of 
William Paddy, who had come to New Plymouth in 1635, 
married John Wensley; and their daughter Sarah Wensley 
married Isaac Winslow, a grandson of Governor Edward 
Winslow. Penelope Winslow, daughter of Isaac and Sarah 
Winslow, became the wife of James Warren, of Plymouth, 
and the mother of General James Warren of the War of 

Remarks were made by Professor Hart. 







Josiah Phillips Quincy had an instinctive shrinking from 
personal notice so strong that, as the Proceedings of this 
Society have shown, he earnestly desired the omission from its 
records of any memorial of his life and work. In deference to 
this wish the President refrained from calling upon any one 
for the customary " tribute." He felt, however, that the 
obligation upon the Society to preserve its records unbroken 
should supersede the preference of one of its members. In 
preparing this memoir it has seemed to me that Mr. Quincy's 
wishes may fairly be met half-way through holding the record 
within limits as narrow as the circumstances will permit. 

The annals of the family to which he belonged are so fully 
set forth in the publications and collections of the Society that 
it would be superfluous to repeat them here. It is enough to 
say that, in the seventh generation of descent from Edmund 
and Judith Quincy, who brought the name to New England in 
1633, he was a grandson of Josiah Quincy, President of Harvard, 
and eldest son of Josiah and Mary Jane (Miller) Quincy. He 
was born in Boston, November 28, 1829. His grandfather, 
having completed the five years in which he made his enduring 
record as the "great mayor" of Boston, had just entered upon 
his duties as President of Harvard. Among these duties he 
gave so high a place to attending the chapel services that on 
the Sunday set for the baptism of the grandson who was to 
receive his name, he reluctantly remained in Cambridge, fearing 
that a deviation from his rules might lead hereafter — as he 
wrote in a letter to his son — "to a doubt in my own mind 
whether I had not sacrificed a duty to a, feeling" He contented 
himself with sending his wishes that the child might live to be a 
blessing, not only to his parents, but "to his country and race." 

CLy^^X ^^A^i^^ C^iLA^WC^ 


The letter of the grandfather throws a certain light upon 
the standards of conduct and purpose with which the child 
was to be surrounded. The service of " country and race" 
brought his father, while the son was still in college, to the 
mayoralty of Boston, a post which his own son in turn occupied 
fifty years later. Any one who has dealt with historical matters 
in Boston knows how hard it is, in imparting his knowledge to 
others, to draw a clear distinction between the Josiah Quincys 
who have successively taken conspicuous places in the local 
scene. Such a student may well be grateful to the subject of 
this memoir for asserting in early manhood his right to a name 
distinctively his own, and adding to the unadorned " Josiah" 
with which his life began the name of Phillips inherited from his 
great-grandmother, the wife of "the patriot," Josiah Quincy, Jr. 

Of his early boyhood, long before this outward establish- 
ment of identity was considered, there are traces indicating 
clearly enough the presence of a marked individuality. In 
Emerson's Journal for 1836 will be found this entry: " Little 
Josiah Quincy, now six years, six months old, is a child having 
something wonderful and divine in him. He is a youthful 
prophet." Emerson had just seen the boy while, for a brief 
period, he was attending the strange school for children which 
Amos Bronson Alcott had established at the top of the Masonic 
Building on the corner of Tremont Street and Temple Place. 
The conversations between Alcott and his pupils are somewhat 
fully recorded, and "little Josiah Quincy" appears indeed as the 
" youthful prophet " described by Emerson. "Mr. Alcott," he 
declared in what purports to be a literal transcript of his words, 
"we think too much about Clay. We should think of Spirit. 
... If we should go out into the street and find a box, an old 
dusty box, and should put into it some very fine pearls, and 
bye and bye the box should grow old and break, why, we should 
not even think about the box; but if the pearls were safe, we 
should think of them and nothing else. So it is with the Soul 
and Body. I cannot see why people mourn for bodies." The 
conversations were unlike those which Alcott subsequently 
conducted in that they were far from monologues by him. Of 
all the young dialecticians he was training up, the young Josiah, 
notable for "fine choice of language and steadiness of mind," 
seems to have been among the most loquacious and extraor- 


dinary. But the Alcott school bore a far less important part 
in preparing the boy for college than the Boston Latin School 
and the Academy of Stephen M. Weld. From these institu- 
tions he passed to Harvard College, graduating in 1850 and 
receiving his Master's degree three years later. 

Immediately upon his graduation Mr. Quincy spent some 
months in Europe. In Paris he saw the coup d'etat of Napoleon 
III in December of 1850, and the bloodshed which ensued — 
scenes which he recalled effectively for a popular lecture in 
the following decade. On his return to Boston he studied law 
for six months in the Harvard Law School and then in the 
office of Charles G. Loring. Admitted to the bar, he occupied 
himself for a time with his profession, especially in its relation 
to real estate. But, neither under the necessity of bread- 
winning nor ambitious to make a fortune of his own, somewhat 
delicate in health — the life-long victim of "hay fever" to an 
extent which for a long period made him an annual fugitive 
from vegetation — and, most of all, really concerned with the 
things of mind and spirit rather than with those of the market- 
place, it is no wonder that his active participation in business 
matters was short-lived. A story, " Betrothal by Proxy," 
which he contributed to the Atlantic in April of 1863, contains 
a passage of some autobiographic significance: "What in the 
world — or rather, what in the United States — is a man to do 
who accumulates sufficient property to relieve him from the ne- 
cessities of active business? The answers offered to this inquiry 
of the Democratic sphinx are, as we all know, various enough. 
Some men, of ready assurance and fluent speech, go into politics; 
some doze in libraries ; some get up trotting-matches and yacht 
races; while others dodge the difficulty altogether by going to 
disport themselves among the arts and letters of a foreign land." 
Outdoor sports or life abroad would have been impossible for 
Mr. Quincy. Dozing in libraries was no pursuit for so eager 
and catholic a reader. "Ready assurance and fluent speech" 
were not included in his equipment. If they had been, there 
can be little doubt that political life would have made a strong 
appeal to him, for questions of legislation and government al- 
ways held a high place among his intellectual interests. It was 
natural that he should turn early to the far-reaching pursuit of 
letters and thought which might lead him where they would. 


The first expression of his devotion to literature was a dra- 
matic poem, Lyteria. It was recognized at once as belonging 
to the same class as Talfourd's Ton, to which President Felton, 
commending the book in the North American Review, likened 
it, admitting no unfavorable comparison between the work of 
his young countryman and that of Talfourd. Lyteria appeared 
in 1854, anonymously, though the authorship, acknowledged in 
the second edition, seems to have been an open secret from the 
beginning. When Charicles, another tragedy of ancient Rome, 
appeared in 1856, it was signed "By the Author of Lyteria"; 
but the copyright stood clearly in the name of " J. P. Quincy." 
Both poems were warmly welcomed by the contemporary 
critics — including Bryant, Richard Grant White and William 
Gilmore Simms. The plays belonged distinctively to the period 
in which they were written, and in thought, sentiment and 
form were so admirably representative of their period that the 
enthusiasm with which they were received is easy to under- 
stand. Only Willis — more of a journalist than most of his 
contemporaries in literature — exclaimed when Charicles ap- 
peared: "Why will not Mr. Quincy (the author) unlade his 
Pegasus of this war-horse caparison, and harness him in a light 
trotting wagon of the time, to run the true race that is open to 
him? " To this question Mr. Quincy 's answer — like that of 
many young men who try their hand at verse before settling 
down to prose — was to unharness his Pegasus completely, and 
to exercise him thereafter almost entirely in private. The 
single excursion into publicity came in 1867 at the annual meet- 
ing of the Phi Beta Kappa Society at Harvard. This was the 
year when Emerson delivered his second Phi Beta Kappa ora- 
tion. Mr. Quincy was the poet of the day, but the poem is not 
to be found among his papers, in the archives of the Society at 
Cambridge, or in the Boston newspapers of the time. The 
Transcript for July 19, 1867, remarked upon it in the following 
sentences, which, in lieu of the poem itself, may well be pre- 
served: "The poem, by Josiah P. Quincy, was a fine production 
and finely delivered. It had its full share of the telling wit and 
felicitous allusions which all good anniversary poems ought to 
have, and at the same time it had the substance of noble thought 
and elevated sentiment, which such poems do not always exhibit. 
The description of the two temptations of the preacher who 


proposes to himself an ideal aim, was singularly keen, animated 
and true — a piece of psychology dramatized." Indeed the 
dramatizing of psychology was a characteristic element in the 
two volumes by which Mr. Quincy's poetic achievement must 
be measured. Elevation and felicity were equally characteristic 
of it; but perhaps its failure to take the permanent place to 
which at first it seemed destined was due to the tendency to- 
wards dramatizing psychology rather than life. 

On December 23, 1858, Mr. Quincy was married to Miss 
Helen Fanny Huntington (1 831-1903), eldest daughter of 
Judge Charles Phelps Huntington of Northampton, and his 
wife, Helen Mills, a daughter of Senator Mills of Massachusetts. 
At about the time of his marriage Mr. Quincy established him- 
self in Quincy near the houses of his father and grandfather, 
and, moving later to his father's house, made Quincy his home 
for the greater part of thirty-five years. Through the earlier 
years of this period he took charge of the considerable farming 
operations on the family place; but reading and writing re- 
mained his paramount pursuits, both in Quincy and throughout 
the later years, approximately twenty, when Boston was his win- 
ter residence. In each place a domestic life of rare happiness, due 
in large measure to the constant companionship of a wife possess- 
ing singular vigor and devotion of character, was his perpetual 
blessing. Of the five children born of this marriage, the eldest 
was the Hon. Josiah Quincy, Mayor of Boston from 1895 to 1899. 

The range of Mr. Quincy's reading was extraordinarily com- 
prehensive. His zest was equally keen for "mere literature," 
for biography, for science, for sociology and government, 
and for speculative inquiries of every kind. The phenomena 
of spiritualism and, later, of psychical research interested 
him intensely. The boy of seven who pleaded for less of 
Clay and more of Spirit was truly the father of the man. A 
student — one may say an intimate — of Shakespeare to a 
degree which enabled him to recite entire plays without prompt- 
ing, he gave a searching attention to every book presenting 
argument or theory in favor of the Baconian claim to author- 
ship. Neither in psychical nor in literary speculations, however, 
was he wont to drift far and long enough from accepted moorings 
to become a complete convert to unproved novelties. The 
speculative rather than the partisan element in a discussion 


was what enlisted his interest. "There is a certain wayward- 
ness in my disposition," a character in one of his short stories 
declared, "which loves to punctuate an inflated convention- 
ality, even when I myself am most conventional." Thus the 
writer of the story, through incessant excursions into many 
fields of thought, maintained the steadiness of temper which 
belongs to the man whose vision cannot be narrowed to a single 
aspect of the object he is regarding. 

If the range of Mr. Quincy's reading was wide, so too was that 
of his writing. The poetical undertakings have already been 
mentioned. For many years after the publication of the two 
books, Mr. Quincy was a diligent writer of short stories for 
Putnam's and other extinct periodicals, and for The Atlantic 
Monthly. The stories in general had a background related less 
to the emotional substance of which fiction is commonly made 
than to interests primarily intellectual. There was a whimsical 
quality in the characterization and the dialogue which gave the 
stories a highly individual flavor. All these elements entered 
into Mr. Quincy's most ambitious piece of fiction, "The Peck- 
ster Professorship," which first appeared serially in The Atlan- 
tic Monthly and then as a book (1888). It was a book for the 
few who could relish a somewhat satirical treatment of academic 
and intellectual society and at the same time could bring to the 
reading some intimacy and sympathy with psychical questions. 
In the quarters where any welcome might have been expected for 
it, the story met with a warm reception, the London Spectator, 
for example, devoting nearly two pages to the commendation of it. 

In quite another field — that of political writing — Mr. 
Quincy was abundantly productive. Through the Civil War 
period he was a frequent contributor to the Anti-Slavery Stand- 
ard, both in the editorial department and as assistant and 
successor to his uncle Edmund Quincy in the capacity of Boston 
correspondent. Throughout his life he was a prolific writer 
of unsigned contributions to the daily press on passing political 
topics. The single subject on which he wrote perhaps most 
frequently was that of taxation. Two pamphlets, "Tax Exemp- 
tion no Excuse for Spoliation" (1874) and "Double Taxation 
in Massachusetts" (1889), speak for his interest in this matter. 
Other essays on political and educational topics were brought 
together in a volume, "The Protection of Majorities" (1875). 


The files of The Unitarian Preview, of Dr. Hale's magazine, Old 
and New, and of The Atlantic Monthly speak further of his pro- 
ductiveness as an essayist. A paper on "Intolerance" in The 
Unitarian Review for June, 1880 — an amplification of Froude's 
dictum that "real belief is necessarily intolerant" — presents 
with vigor a perennially wholesome truth, and shows clearly 
enough why the editors wanted his essays. In The Atlantic 
for September, 1890, a little paper on " Cranks as Social Motors" 
affords an excellent example of Mr. Quincy's skill in this form 
of expression. "Cranks," he remarks, "come from all classes^ 
and may be roughly defined as persons who have not the in- 
stinct of their order." Their value in putting things in motion 
is set forth in telling phrase and apt, abundant illustration. 
Then, with a quaint recognition of the humor in the situation, 
he declares it "impossible to forbear the opportunity of deliver- 
ing himself of opinions which for the past thirty years he has 
advocated, and which, according to the judgment of those who 
ought to know, entitle him to a fair position in the brotherhood 
of cranks," mounts his own hobby and makes a brief eloquent 
plea for "a total change in our methods of taxing." 

It remains to say a word about Mr. Quincy's dealings with 
historical matters. His contributions to the Proceedings of 
this Society span a broad stream of time and topics. Beginning 
in 1870, five years after his election to the Society, with remarks 
on the gift of a letter relating to the battle of Bunker Hill, his 
written and spoken words extend even to a tribute to William 
Everett delivered at the February meeting of 1910, the year of 
Mr. Quincy's death. Memoirs of Thomas H. Webb, Robert 
C. Waters ton, Octavius Brooks Frothingham and Edmund 
Quincy stand to his credit in the biographical portion of our 
records. Contributions appear in many of the volumes of. 
Proceedings published during the forty-five years of his member- 
ship. Outside these records a delightful specimen of Mr. 
Quincy's historical work is to be found at the beginning of the 
fourth volume of Justin Winsor's Memorial History of Boston. 
The chapter on "Social Life in Boston: From the Adoption of 
the Federal Constitution to the Granting of the City Charter" 
called upon him for knowledge which he was peculiarly qualified 
to acquire and impart. Students of Boston history will always 
be the richer for what he gave them here. So, too, in a measure 


far greater, both students and readers owe him their gratitude 
for a service which he never claimed. But for him that clearest 
illumination of Boston life during the earlier portion of the 
nineteenth century, Figures of the Past, could hardly have come 
into being. In the Introduction to the book his father, Josiah 
Quincy, wrote that when a New York editor asked him to fur- 
nish a series of papers upon former men and things, his first 
impulse was to decline the proposition: " weighted with nearly 
fourscore years, I could not think of entering the list of general 
letters. I was about to succumb to this embarrassment when a 
friend, who had read my journals with interest, offered me his 
most valuable aid in what may be called the literary responsi- 
bilities of the undertaking. My narratives have gained in grace 
of expression as they passed beneath the correcting pen of my 
obliging critic, and I am confident that a stern exercise of his 
right of curtailing reflections and omitting incidents has been 
no less for the reader's advantage. The first paper, as origi- 
nally published, 1 contained an explicit avowal of this indebted- 
ness; and it is right that I should repeat it more emphatically 
in allowing the series to be put into a permanent form." The 
"friend" and "obliging critic" was no other than his son, who 
may truly be said to have made the book out of the materials 
supplied by his father. It is far from fanciful to believe that 
the avowal of indebtedness would have been explicit enough 
to render the friend and critic recognizable to all but for the 
son's determined preference to remain in the background. 

When the first of Mr. Quincy's books, Lyteria, appeared 
anonymously, a reviewer revealing the author's name said in 
effect that it could not have been withheld because the work was 
poor, and added that he was "his own severest critic." In 
what has been said here about his writing in general more em- 
phasis has been laid upon the substance than upon the form of 
it. In the form there was a pervading distinction which spoke 
for standards due to no passing fashions but to the best models 
in the writing of English. Through all his prose there was the 
nicety of phrase, the felicity of epithet characteristic especially 
of those whose English rests upon a basis of classical training, 
and has acquired besides something of the fluidity which often 
springs from the exercise of writing verse. Mr. Quincy could 

1 In The Independent, 


not have measured himself by the standards which he set up 
without being indeed his own severe, if not severest, critic. 
Where the qualities which marked his writing will be found 
when the influences which produced them shall have passed 
completely away, one may not predict. 

Of his whole avoidance of foregrounds in life it may be said, 
after all, that he was essentially a private person. It is hard to 
dogmatize about human character, and to say in the present 
instance just how much the devotion to privacy was due to an 
imperfect adaptation of physical and temperamental equip- 
ment to the commoner activities of American life, or how far it 
was the direct result of an habitual state of mind, speculative 
rather than executive and unworldly to a degree most rare in 
any time or place. As one saw him in later years he seemed to 
represent a vanishing type, to carry into our own period an 
image of a period that has closed. If it is safe to venture a 
generalization, the men who arrived at maturity before the 
Civil War carried forward into our common day some rays 
from the morning light of American civilization; the men now 
approaching old age who first came actively upon the scene 
during or after the Civil War are far less markedly separated 
from their younger contemporaries. The Civil War was the 
great dividing line of our social, as of our political, history. 
Apart from merely personal characteristics, then, Mr. Quincy 
will be remembered by many as a representative of the older 
order. In the more individual aspect he will recall himself as a 
reserved and modest gentleman of distinguished mien and 
carriage, genuinely democratic, of the friendliest disposition 
towards all his fellow-creatures, with tastes of a simplicity al- 
most austere, with habits of life so quietly ordered as to assume 
even a cloistral quality. But between the outward show of this 
sheltered existence and the inward reality the divergence was 
broad. Of external adventure Mr. Quincy was peculiarly inno- 
cent through all his days. In mental and spiritual adventure he 
was undaunted and untiring. To all the dominions which he ex- 
plored he carried that which the traveller must bear with him if 
he is to bring anything home from his journey. And home he bore 
a wealth of thought on all that renders life the vital thing it is. 

After an illness of a single week Mr. Quincy died of pneu- 
monia, in Boston, October 31, 1910. 

Jan. 191 2.] JOHN BIGELOW. 347 


THE stated meeting was held on Wednesday, the nth 
instant, at three o'clock, p. m. ; the President in the 

The record of the last meeting was read and approved; 
and the Librarian reported the list of donors to the Library 
since the last meeting. 

The Corresponding Secretary reported the receipt of a letter 
from Justin Harvey Smith accepting his election as a Resident 

The Cabinet-Keeper reported the gift, by Francis Apthorp 
Foster, of a photogravure of the Burgis view of Harvard College 
in 1726, the original of which is in the possession of the Society. 

The President announced, on the part of the Council, that 
members of the Society would hereafter be privileged to in- 
vite guests to be present at meetings at which either an- 
nouncements of death were made or papers read, after the 
business meeting had terminated, without previously giving 
notice and obtaining permission for so doing. 

The President read the following tribute to Mr. John 

Since the last meeting of the Society we have lost that one 
of our Corresponding Members whose name has for eleven 
years stood at the head of the roll. John Bigelow died at his 
house in Gramercy Park, New York City, on the 19th of 

It is not customary here to make particular mention of 
the Corresponding Members at time of death. Presumably 
what is desirable to be said concerning them will have been 
said elsewhere, and does not properly pertain to our records. 
Nevertheless, there are exceptions to all rules, and Mr. Bigelow 
clearly constitutes an exception to the rule to which I have 
made reference. 


Mr. Bigelow was elected a Corresponding Member at the 
February meeting, 1875, as I was elected a Resident Member 
at the April meeting of the same year. His connection with 
the Society and mine consequently were of almost exactly the 
same duration up to last month, — covering a period of over 
thirty-six years. Elected nine years after he had retired from 
his post of Minister at Paris, and in the full maturity of his 
powers, he also held his membership in esteem, as was evinced 
by his contributions of one character and another to our Pro- 
ceedings. I am not aware that he was ever present at a meeting. 
If so, it certainly has not been during my occupancy of this 
chair. He did, however, if my recollection does not deceive me, 
attend a reception given by me to the members of the Society 
and others in the Ellis room in June, 1904. 

My personal relations with Mr. Bigelow go back many years, 
and have always been of the most friendly and at times almost 
intimate character; and his going, consequently, even though 
at the ripe age of ninety-four, made a painful impression on 
me. It was the snapping of the last link connecting us with a 
period long anterior, and generations that are gone. And it 
was in this aspect that the life of Mr. Bigelow, especially in the 
later years, was most interesting to me. Indeed, few of us now 
realize that world with which he connected us, and how very 
remote it was. Not only was it that of a generation ago, but 
more nearly that of three generations ago. He himself has 
told the story. He has described how he came to the city of 
New York in 1835, during the Presidency of Andrew Jackson. 
As a student of law, he sat at a desk in the building then on 
the corner of Cedar and Nassau Streets, the busy site now occu- 
pied by the Bank of Commerce edifice. Then a young man of 
eighteen, he had come to New York, as so many others did and 
since have done, there to establish himself, and to get a living 
if he could. There he remained practically by an unbroken 
residence extending over hard upon eighty years. His acquaint- 
ance with the city of his adoption, its habits, its social life and 
its commercial development thus, as I have said, covered the 
lives of nearly three generations. In 1838 he was admitted to 
the New York Bar. After ten years of not very active practice 
thereat, he in the autumn of 1848, at the suggestion of William 
Cullen Bryant, became the owner of a part interest in the 

191 2.] JOHN BIGELOW. 349 

Evening Post newspaper, and thereafter for some years served 
as its working editor. Acquiring what he regarded as a com- 
petence, he subsequently, in 1861, withdrew from the journal- 
istic career, but only to be appointed in the following August 
United States Consul General at Paris. Remaining in France, 
first as Consul General, and then as Minister at the Court of 
the Second Empire, from the autumn of 1861 until the close 
of 1866, he returned to New York, where he afterward lived. 
During the later years, occupying himself chiefly in the 
preparation of his voluminous Retrospections, he was also 
concerned in a wide field of public usefulness, — his activities 
were numerous. Mr. Bigelow's life, therefore, covered the 
whole period of what may fairly be termed New York's " metro- 
politan development," and during that period he held almost 
intimate personal acquaintance with many of the leading in- 
habitants of the city, — the actors in over two generations of 
municipal life, and local and national politics. The great 
New York City fire of December 5, 1835, occurred shortly 
after young Bigelow's first arrival, and during the nearly 
eighty years which have since elapsed he saw New York 
develop from what was little more than an overgrown com- 
mercial town, still somewhat Dutch and essentially provincial, 
with a population inhabiting a town the principal resident 
quarter of which was in the immediate neighborhood of the 
Battery and the City Park, — he saw, I say, this overgrown 
town develop into the metropolitan city with which we are 
familiar. He wrote a " Prelude" to his Retrospections, in which 
he alludes in quite a striking way to the changes which had 
occurred within his memory. Speaking of New York in his 
early life, as he first remembers it, he said: 

In those days the "gray goose-quill" was the universal implement 
of the ready writer. The pen of steel or gold was a secret of the 

There were no telegraphs or telephones, defying time and space. 

Neither steam nor electricity as a power had entered into success- 
ful competition with the horse or the ox. 

The oceans as yet were vexed only by the same capricious ele- 
mental and mechanical forces as those which wrecked St. Paul some 
nineteen centuries before on the island of Melita. 

Our houses were lighted at night only by tallow dips. 


The most powerful explosives then known, for purposes of either 
war or peace, would prove about as valueless for the protection of 
a city or for resisting a siege at the present day as a pair of spectacles. 

Were our commercial metropolis by a sudden dispensation of 
Providence deprived of the resources with which science and the 
industrial arts have provided it since [1830], the hundreds of thou- 
sands who now flock thither every morning from its territorial 
circuit of forty or fifty miles would be obliged to consume two days 
in a journey which now occupies habitually less than as many hours. 
As its population never has a supply of provisions on Manhattan 
Island for more than three days, only those who could get on foot 
to some source of supply elsewhere could escape starvation, inasmuch 
as all the available means for the transportation of food would not 
suffice for the population of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel alone for 
a single week, if for a single day. Those who failed to make a timely 
escape would have neither water to drink nor fire to cook with; the 
total of the only fuel then used or known in the city would not 
suffice to cook a breakfast for its inhabitants. Soon after sunset the 
city would be in total darkness, except in the rare cases where an 
old flint-lock musket had chanced to have survived its usefulness as 
a weapon to anticipate the arrival of sulphuretted matches. Noth- 
ing but provisions would have any value, and most edibles would 
be worthless for want of fire and water to prepare them. No news- 
paper could appear to tell what had happened or how to reorganize 
life upon the new conditions, so completely has the machinery 
for printing and journalism changed in the last threescore years 
and ten. 

In following this most suggestive line of " Retrospections," Mr. 
Bigelow might have gone much further. In 1835 anaesthetics 
were as yet undreamed of, and the discovery of antiseptics — 
of scarcely less importance to mankind — was to be the work 
of another generation. Methods of medical treatment and 
surgery as they exist today were almost what they had 
been a century before, — practically in the Sangrado stage of 

While Mr. Bigelow was editor of the Evening Post, he wrote 
a series of communications, not yet wholly forgotten, which 
appeared in its columns over the signature of "The Jersey 
Ferryman." He adopted that nom de plume for the reason 
that the politicians were supposed to go to and fro across the 
North River on their way to Washington and back, and it was 
in his character of the ferryman that he picked up the informa- 

191 2.] JOHN BIGELOW. 351 

tion thus made public. Now the ferry has so far disappeared 
that the passenger to and from Washington passes from what 
was then the sparsely inhabited suburban region above Thirtieth 
Street, by tunnel under the North River, emerging therefrom 
on the Jersey side. In fact, trying to transport ourselves back 
to the year 1835, it almost seems as if the work of what is now 
known as the school of applied sciences had not yet begun. 
Chemistry and engineering were in what we regard as their 
practical infancy. James Kent, having twelve years before 
retired from his office of Chancellor of the State of New York, 
had only recently ceased to lecture at Columbia College; and 
John Marshall died that very year. As to our literature, 
it was literally in its childhood. The Knickerbocker School, 
so called, flourished; but the great group of Massachusetts lit- 
erary lights were as yet in the glimmering stage. As to Ameri- 
can history, the first volume of George Bancroft's life-long work, 
afterwards largely re-written, was published in 1834. I have 
said that our literature was then in its childhood; I may not 
unfairly add that, as respects literary style, the volume referred 
to was typical. 

It was, however, with William Cullen Bryant of the Knicker- 
bocker group that Mr. Bigelow was more peculiarly and inti- 
mately associated. And that fact in itself constitutes a link 
of somewhat remote association, for it was in 1816, or ninety- 
six years ago, that Bryant made, in the publication of "Thana- 
topsis," his earliest noticeable appearance. The active life of 
the two men covered, therefore, a century. 

Mr. Bigelow to the end had a keen appreciation of the older 
man, and in his Retrospections pays a generous tribute to him. 
He says: 

In looking back upon my past life, I have been frequently im- 
pressed with the sense of my obligations to the superior standards 
by which I had from time to time the privilege of gauging my con- 
duct. For full twenty years after my daily intercourse with Mr. 
Bryant terminated by my retirement from the Evening Post and 
absence from the country, I would find myself frequently testing 
things I had done or proposed to do by asking myself, — How would 
Mr. Bryant act under similar circumstances ? I rarely applied this 
test without receiving a clear and satisfactory answer. The in- 
fluence which Mr. Bryant exerted over me by his example — he 


never gave advice — satisfies me that every one undervalues the 
importance of his own example. In ordering our own lives, we are 
unconsciously ordering the lives of everybody else; for a wave of 
influence once projected by us never sleeps even when it has washed 
every shore (i. 54). 

His estimate, however, of Mr. Bryant as a poet and literary 
man would, perhaps, by most now be pronounced somewhat 
extravagant. In one place, for example, he alludes to some 
unfamiliar stanzas of Mr. Bryant, entitled "The Cloud in the 
Way," as better than any poem which "had appeared in the 
English press for the previous thirty years." Elsewhere, also 
(p. 324), he refers to Mr. Bryant not only as the first literary 
man of America, but as "the greatest living poet." 

Since his death Mr. Bigelow has been eulogized as a man 
and as a citizen. The many offices he has held have been enumer- 
ated, and the work he did has been dwelt upon. Scarcely a 
word, however, has been said of his religious beliefs, though 
these entered very largely into his character. He belonged 
to the Swedenborgian sect, and some years ago he wrote, and 
privately printed, a little volume entitled The Bible that Was 
Dead, and Is Alive, That Was Lost and Is Found, and How I Came 
to Know and Reverence Emanuel Swedenhorg. Of this volume, 
revealing as it did what had been one of the great motive powers 
in his life, he said: "I have prepared it as a narrative of the 
circumstances which led to my own deliverance from a spirit- 
ual bondage no less depressing and degrading, nor I imagine, 
very much different from what the Israelites endured in Egypt." 

This was a curious and striking trait when one came sud- 
denly across it in the more intimate relations with Mr. Bige- 
low. I remember it so impressed me some years ago, when it 
almost seemed to me that he desired to lead me into the path 
which he had trod. I fear, however, that in my case he found 
but an indifferent subject on which to work, — one agnosti- 
cally inclined. 

None the less, by the death of Mr. Bigelow we have lost the 
last considerable connecting link with a generation destined 
to figure large in the history of this country and the world. 
For my own belief — and I take it, it is a belief which will be 
generally concurred in — is that hereafter in the retrospect 
of history the events which occurred in the United States 


between i860 and 1870 will project themselves no less boldly 
than with us do the years of the French Revolution, those 
of our own struggle for Independence, or those of the English 
Civil War of Cromwellian times; and when that narrative 
comes finally to be written, Mr. Bigelow will unquestionably 
figure in it. And he was the last survivor of those who then 
held high and responsible public position. Of what then 
occurred, of the men he knew and with whom he was closely 
associated, and of the part he played in connection with them 
and those memorable events, he has left his own record. 

Dr. Green called attention to a volume now in the Society's 
collections : 

A copy of a book entitled The Last Men of the Revolution (Hart- 
ford, 1864) has recently been given to the Library, which has 
a lithographic fac-simile of a letter written by Edward Everett, 
probably the last one he ever wrote. It is dated on Saturday, 
January 14, 1865, after an illness of several days which threat- 
ened pneumonia; and he died suddenly very early on Sunday 
morning, January 15, from a stroke of apoplexy. The letter 
was written to Messrs. N. A. & R. A. Moore, the publishers of 
the book in Hartford. Soon after the date of the letter, it was 
in the possession of Mr. James Parker, of Springfield, a noted 
antiquary and collector of autographs. He caused it to be 
lithographed, and gave copies to his friends, among whom was 
Amos A. Lawrence, a former member of this Society. 

From a letter written to Mr. Lawrence by Mr. Parker, under 
date of March 22, 1867, it seems that the writer was extra- 
illustrating a copy of the Memoirs of Major-General Heath 
during the American War, and that he was desirous to obtain 
an autograph letter of Washington to insert therein. Where- 
upon Mr. Lawrence, with his accustomed generosity, gave 
him one, evidently taken from the Heath manuscripts. Prob- 
ably he reserved a very few of the Washington letters from 
the Heath Papers at the time he gave the collection to the 
Society, as, according to the index in each volume, a few of 
these letters are missing. Very likely it was one of these that 
he gave Mr. Parker, who was a remote kinsman, both springing 
from old Groton families. I knew Mr. Parker well, and at 
the time of his death in Springfield, on January 2, 1874, I wrote 



an obituary notice of him which duly appeared in the Ameri- 
can Journal of Numismatics (viii. 95) for April, 1874. 
The following is a copy of Mr. Everett's letter: 

Boston, 14 Jan. 1865. 

Gentlemen, — Since I received your favor of the 7th and the 
little volume accompanying it, I have been very ill, and now am able 
to answer but very briefly. I have looked through the Biographies 
with interest, and they appear to me to contain all that can be 
expected. The anecdote of General Washington's stopping to 
"jerk stones" with the men is excellent, and is in accordance with 
the traditions of his Youth which describe him as being able to throw 
a stone over the Rappahannock below Fredericksburg. 

In the year 1836, being then Governor of Massachusetts, I signed 
a Pension Warrant for a person who lost an arm at Fort William 
Henry in 1757. 

I remain, Gentlemen, respectfully yours, 

Edward Everett. 

Messrs. N. A. & R. A. Moore. 

The copy of The Last Men of the Revolution is given to the 
library by Mrs. Frederic Cunningham, of Longwood, a daughter 
of the late Amos A. Lawrence. The book contains some addi- 
tional matter relating to the subject in the way of newspaper 
clippings and including a photograph of Mr. Everett. 

Mr. Ford then read a paper on 

The Recall of John Quincy Adams in 1808. 

The recall may be applied to the executive, the legislature and 
the judiciary. As regards the executive, it has possibilities; 
with the legislature, it is of doubtful merit; applied to the 
judiciary, it may abound in mischief. My story relates to 
its application in 1808 to a United States Senator from 

June 22, 1807, the British armed ship Leopard, in a time of 
peace, fired upon the American frigate Chesapeake, "an act 
so lawless that no man of common sense even in England 
ventured to defend it as lawful." If it was to prevent a repe- 
tition and obtain reparation for the insult, but one course lay 
open to the administration, and in that course it must have the 
support of the people, no matter how serious the necessary 

191 2.] RECALL OF J. Q. ADAMS, 1808. 355 

measures became. The news of the attack reached Boston 
June 30. The Federalists hung back, hesitating; but John 
Quincy Adams, a Federalist by inheritance, by connections 
and by associations, at once pledged his support to the ad- 
ministration. Knowing that the Selectmen of the town would 
not summon a regular town-meeting on the application of the 
supporters of Jefferson, 1 a number of citizens of Boston, on July 
9, called a public meeting for the next day. At that meeting a 
committee of seven was named to report resolutions expressing 
the sense of those there gathered on the momentous occasion. 
The name of Adams, who alone among the Federalists of reputa- 
tion had attended the meeting, stood second on the committee. 
No doubtful tone infected the resolutions, for they recognized to 
the fullest extent the duty as well as the right of the citizens to 
express their support to the constituted authorities in measures 
of redress. 2 The effect of the meeting was such as to compel 
the Federalists to act, though some of the leaders — Parsons 
and Pickering among them — refused to participate in any 
public movement. At that period neither the Exchange nor 
modern Club had been evolved as a recognized factor in Bos- 
ton's business or social life, and the ordinary place of meeting 
of those active in mercantile or political circles was in the 
State Street offices of the insurance agencies, known as 
underwriters. On the morning of the day (9th) on which 
the citizens' indignation meeting was to take place, John 
Lowell, a man as prominent then in Massachusetts politics 
as he was in Boston business circles, met J. Q. Adams in one 
of these offices, and a decidedly heated altercation occurred 
between the two, in the course of which Lowell openly justi- 
fied Admiral Berkeley's order under which the commander of 
the Leopard had acted, including its consequences to the 
Chesapeake? With that counting-room altercation fresh in 
mind J. Q. Adams had gone to the Faneuil Hall meeting, and 
actively participated therein. Subsequently a regularly called 

1 Adams, New England Federalism, 182. 

2 Columbian Chronicle, July 13, 1807. 

3 Adams, Memoirs, 1. 468. Gore was mistakenly made the hero. "A serious 
Question. — Did not Mr. Gore, in dispute with John Q. Adams, our Senator, last 
July, justify the conduct of the British officers in their attack upon the Chesa- 
peake, on the ground that there were British deserters on board? Those who 
heard the conversation in State-Street are requested to inform the public." 
Independent Chronicle, March 28, 1808. 


town-meeting held in Faneuil Hall on the 16th was attended 
by many Federalists, and the committee on resolutions was 
headed by John Quincy Adams, with whom were associated 
such men as Harrison Gray Otis, William Eustis, Christopher 
Gore, Dr. Charles Jarvis, Jonathan Mason and Dr. John 
Warren. The earlier meeting gave the tone to the later. 1 To 
this extent party lines tended to disappear, but were certain 
to reappear as soon as specific measures came into consideration. 
When the National Intelligencer, the recognized organ of the 
administration, intimated that a suspension of exports for 
some months might become necessary, to prevent the seizure 
by England of American ships, a ripple of excitement, almost 
of consternation, passed through New England, for such a 
proposition fitted well into the principles of Jefferson. Some 
said Jefferson had written the paragraph. But Congress was 
not then sitting. 

The session of 1 807-1 808 was eventful, and to no member of 
either house so eventful as to Adams. The shots of the Leopard, 
as he then believed, brought his political career to a crisis the 
most difficult to encounter that could happen to mortal man. 
It was presidential year, when all measures had in view the 
approaching election. Adams had no close relations with the 
executive, and was not in a position to know its policy save 
so far as the Senate was given its confidence. He had already 
taken positions on public questions which separated him from 
his colleague Pickering, as on the acquisition of Louisiana. 
Notably, also, in the case of John Smith, Senator from Ohio. 
This Senator, it was charged, had been involved in the so- 
called conspiracy of Burr. Adams, who prepared the Senate 
report, favored expulsion. The New York Evening Post, a 
hostile critic, warned him against the great danger to a republi- 
can government from faction. In words prophetic it said* "In 
times of tumult and the rage of party, virtue cannot defend, 

1 The Repertory, a Federalist sheet, deprecated the call for the meeting of 
July 10, which had appeared in the Chronicle, as an " irregular and tumultuous 
mode of proceeding," and as a partisan move, as the Federalists were warned not 
to appear at it. While urging that "no just and honorable man of any party" 
should attend, a pledge of support followed, but limited by the condition, "when- 
ever the disastrous hour arrives in which the Government declares that Great 
Britain is our enemy." Looking upon the meeting of the ioth as partisan, that 
of the 16th was recognized as "conducted on a correct and liberal plan." July 
10, 17, 1807. 

19 1 2.] RECALL OF J. Q. ADAMS, 1808. 357 

neither can innocence excuse. All republics have suffered, 
and most of them have perished, by the rash sacrifice of their 
best men to popular frenzy. Nay, the just has been punished 
merely because he was just." 1 Was it an echo of this attack 
in John Adams' distressed cry in 1809, — "My son is banished 
to Siberia because he is just? " Plumer wrote from New Hamp- 
shire that the report on Smith "had given mortal offence. 
In several of these companies when I have attempted its de- 
fence, I have not only found myself alone, but have suffered a 
portion of that abuse and calumny which they have so illiberally 
vented against its author. To you I need not say that it is not 
an uncommon thing for a people to abuse and vilify its best 
friends, and approve and reward their best enemies." 2 The 
Republican Corresponding Society of Cincinnati, Ohio, about 
the same time passed resolutions warmly commending the 
report. "With horror and indignation," one of these sen- 
tences ran, "they have witnessed an attempt to put in execution 
a scheme which had for its object a dissolution of the ' Federative 
Union.' " 3 Pickering, in 1824, asserted that there were passages 
in the report which "outraged, I believe, every distinguished 
lawyer in America." 4 

The attacks upon Adams for this report were in part based 
upon his refusal to act with the New England Federalists in 
their schemes for future political action, action that logically 
led to the Hartford Convention. Another event came to ag- 
gravate the attacks, to convince many that he had abandoned 
the Federalist party and united himself to the enemy, and to 
place him in opposition to the moneyed interests of New Eng- 
land. Neither the industry nor the commerce of that section 
of the country would stand for an embargo — the last word be- 
fore war, and a commercial war of disastrous conditions. Yet 
Adams voted in December for an embargo, for one of unlimited 
duration and at the behest of Jefferson, who knew nothing of 
trade or manufactures, and hated them as only a farmer and 
a losing one can do. Adams voted for it unreservedly and with 
eagerness, believing that if it was not possible to have war for 

1 New York Evening Post, January 23, 1808. 

2 To John Quincy Adams, February 12, 1808. MS. Papers thus noted are 
from the Adams mss. 

3 Resolutions, February 13, 1808. MS. 

4 Review of the Correspondence [Adams — Cunningham], 41. 


the defence of American maritime rights, an embargo would 
at least save American property on the seas from the depreda- 
tions of England and France. He defended the measure as the 
only alternative of war. for which the country was not prepared. 
The embargo offered a pause for deliberation, in a moment 
of peculiar peril. 1 John Adams had not clamored against the 
embargo, because he thought it a 

necessary temporary measure, well knowing that it could not 
be of long duration. I agree with you. that it ought to have been 
limited to some period. Any longer continuance of it is not con- 
formable to my feelings or judgment. I had much rather hear a 
cry in Congress like that which had so often sounded in the British 
Parliament. "Who shall dare to set limits to the commerce and naval 
power of this country? " In refusing to acknowledge a right in Great 
Britain to impress seamen from our ships, in opposing and resisting 
the decrees and orders of France and England, in resisting the out- 
rages and hostilities co mmi tted upon us, the administration have my 
hearty wishes for their success. 2 

Adams' colleague in the Senate. Timothy Pickering, had for 
some time been restive under the difficulties of a questioned 
and a waning leadership. Dictatorial, he was accustomed to 
be followed: the leader of the remains of the Federalists, a 
party in blind opposition to the Executive, his schemes had no 
place for one so independent as Adams. A clever and ambitious 
politician, he had a long memory for the balks and obstacles 
encountered in his rise, and the elder Adams had been for him 
a chief instrument of humiliation. An able controversialist, 
and on this question of an embargo, with almost the entire 
press of Xew England behind him. he could take advantage 
of every opening an opponent offered, and make the most of 
it. He did it in this instance in a masterly manner, for his 
attack was sudden, unforeseen and most effective. In a 
letter to the governor — James Sullivan — dated February 16, 
1S08. he laid stress upon the absence of reasons for an embargo 
in the papers submitted by the President, on the impolicy of 
the measure, and on the necessity for a combination of the 
co mm ercial States against it. In thus condemning the em- 
bargo, by implication he condemned all those Senators who 

1 The phrase is Cunningham's, in letter of September 19, 1808. 

2 Jchn Adams to William Cunningham, September 27, 1808. 

191 2.] RECALL OF J. Q. ADAMS, 1808. 359 

had voted for it. Although Adams' name was not mentioned 
in the letter, no one could doubt the purpose intended; for it 
was written toward the close of the session of the Massachu- 
setts legislature, and immediately before the State election, on 
the result of which would turn the choice of a United States 
Senator, to fill the place then occupied by Adams. It was 
largely a political and partisan paper. Addressed to the Gov- 
ernor of the State, intended to be submitted to the Legislature 
in the last hours of its session, and to be made public, Pickering 
took no chances of a miscarriage through the neglect or refusal 
of the Republican Governor to lay it before that body. He 
sent a copy of it to George Cabot, and as soon as it was seen 
that Sullivan would not do what was wanted of him, Cabot 
put it in the press. Five days after the letter was in the Gov- 
ernor's hands Otis had moved in the State Senate that any 
letters received by the Governor from either Senator, be com- 
municated to the Senate; but the motion was rejected. On 
the next day some copies of Pickering's letter were obtained 
from the printer, 1 and in the following thirty days tens of 
thousands of copies were circulated, in pamphlet, broadside 
and newspaper. 
Adams received his first copy of the letter on March 16. 2 

1 Interesting Correspondence, 14 n. "Governor Sullivan, it is confidently said, 
has received information from both the Senators of this State in Congress; but 
a motion to request him to promulgate it, has been negatived [March 7] in the 
[State] Senate." Columbian Centinel, March 9, 1808. See Salem Gazette, March 
15, 1808. No letters from Adams to the Governor on public affairs at this juncture 
have been preserved. Pickering's letter ran through many reissues, besides being 
reprinted in all the Federalist newspapers of New England. One of these reprints, 
made in Northampton, contained quite a lengthy letter in commendation, 
signed "Thousands." Carter, of the Providence Gazette, stated that 2000 copies 
had been issued as a handbill, besides the newspaper edition. The Newbury port 
Herald printed it as a pamphlet, and a New York imprint is said to exist. In 
all some 30,000 pamphlets and 40,000 newspapers were estimated to have issued 
before the end of March. Salem Gazette, March 25, 1808. Such was the desire 
to read this letter, we are gravely told, that "little boys fought for it with the 
utmost avidity;" which led the Chronicle to remark that the next edition should 
be composed after the manner of Doctor Watts: 

"My book and heart 

Shall never part." 
"Old Timothy 

Learnt sin to fly." 

Independent Chronicle, March 24, 1808. 

2 On the next day he received copies from his correspondent Joseph Hall, 
who wrote: "It may turn out that our Executive [Jefferson] in his foreign rela- 


He saw at once the issue that was joined, and realized the force 
of the attack and the ability of his opponent. Time was pre- 
cious, yet three weeks were occupied in preparing a reply, and 
in those three weeks Pickering had the field to himself. Letters 
of abuse, advice and warning came to Adams, of which this 
may serve as a specimen: 

Mr. John Quincy Adams, — We have received a letter from Mr. 
Pickering. It is explicit. We see the man. It is said that the whole 
of Mr. Quincy Adams's doings are involved in mystery. There is 
no mystery in them. When the public interest is sacrificed for 
private views, what will not a man do in order to appear to be patri- 
otic? Lucifer, son of the Morning, how hast thou fallen! We hope 
not irrecoverably. Oh, Adams, remember who thou art. Return 
to Massachusetts. Return to thy country. Assist not in its de- 
struction. Consider the consequences. Awake, arouse in time. 

A Federalist. 

Boston, 8 March, 1808. 1 

On April 9 the reply appeared. Also circulated in large 
numbers, it could not overcome the effect of the attack. 2 

tions is playing the Devil with the country. Mr. Pickering has S. T. Mason as 
a model, and his own conduct when Secretary of State to prove his as well as 
Genet's right to appeal to the people." Adams mss. 
1 From the Adams mss. 

2 Shaw to Adams. 

Boston, 9 April, 1808. 

My dear Sir, — I had the honour to receive your letter to Mr. Otis on Thursday 
evening last, and have attended to its publication, with as much expedition as 
possible. The printers have published an edition of a thousand copies; the sale 
of them commenced this morning, and the whole are now disposed of. Oliver 
and Munroe are now printing a second edition of a thousand more on their own 
account and have contracted with several of the democrats, with Eben Larkin 
bookseller at their head, to print three thousand more for general circulation in 
the Country. In consequence of the great haste with which they were printed, 
some few errors have escaped us, which I shall see corrected in the second edition. 
I sent you several copies last evening and now send you several more by this 
mail. I have also agreeably to your direction sent a copy to Governour Sullivan 
and to Mr. Otis. . . . 

Wm. S. Shaw. — Adams mss. 

"Mr. Pickering's letter had before our election been circulated with so much 
industry, as to be in almost every house in Massachusetts; but your letter to 
Mr. Otis has been sought for with still more avidity. The information it contains 
has already given a new tone to public opinion, and it is likely to have a salutary 
effect upon our common welfare. Coming from one of our Senators, who, it is 
believed, is always carefull to keep himself well-informed upon our national 
affairs, it will prove a most acceptable communication to the people of Massa- 
chusetts." Samuel Dana to John Quincy Adams, April 18, 1808. MS. 

1912.] RECALL OE J. Q. ADAMS, 1808. 361 

Pickering's object was not only to prevent the selection of 
Adams to succeed himself, he intended to read him out of the 
party and so destroy any hope of future political honors. 1 Yet 
if Adams was an apostate, as the Essex Junto would call him, 
the beginnings of his apostasy lay in the Boston resolutions, 
which other and better Federalists had accepted. To his 
mother he wrote: 

To Abigail Adams. 

Washington, 20 April, 1808. 

As for myself, I have not indeed written you so often as my incli- 
nation would have dictated; but I hope you will impute it to any 
cause rather than to a failure in the dearest of my duties. Among 
the severest of the trials which have befallen me during the present 
session of Congress (and they have been severe beyond any that I 
ever was before called to meet) that of having incurred in some 
particulars the disapprobation of both my Parents has been to me 
the most afflictive. Totally disconnected with all the intrigues of 
the various parties which have been in such a violent electioneering 
fermentation, I have been obliged to act upon principles exclusively 
my own, and without having any aid from the party in power have 
made myself the very mark of the most envenomed shafts from 
their opponents. Although I attended at Mr. Bradley's Caucus or 
Convention, yet it has been very explicitly understood by the prin- 
cipal friends of the Candidates that I had no intention to become 
the partizan of either. This neutrality with regard to persons, 
has of course neutralized the men of both sides in return, and having 
taken an active and decided part upon much of the public business, 
it has on one side been convenient to load me with the burthen of 
managing as much of it as I would assume, and on the other to leave 
me to defend myself as well as I could from the assailants of another 
quarter. Hence there has been scarcely a measure of great public 
importance but I have been obliged to attend to in Committee as 

1 "This party [the Essex Junto] have already begun their attack on Mr. John 
Quincy Adams. They have defamed him in the most infamous manner. They 
have represented him as an apostate, and being guilty of voting for himself as a 
candidate for Vice President. Notwithstanding this outrage on decency and 
propriety, they style themselves Adams Federalists. When their champion 
[Alexander Hamilton] abused President Adams in a circular letter, palmed upon 
the public in the same insidious way with Pickering's, and the son of the late 
President is traduced by the most flagrant publications against his late conduct 
in Congress, can there be any sincerity in the profession of such men?" Inde- 
pendent Chronicle, March 21, 1808. 



well as in the Senate; and in addition to all the rest a question of 
expulsion of a member has been imposed upon me, of great difficulty 
respecting the forms of proceeding, and the merits of the particular 
case, which I have been compelled to carry through almost alone. 
The question was taken about ten days since, and the vote for 
expulsion was nineteen to ten. The Constitution requiring two- 
thirds to carry the vote, it failed by a single vote. I could tell you, 
though it may not be proper to say upon paper, by what a curious 
concurrence of parties the ten votes of acquittal was compounded. 1 

The letter of Mr. Pickering is another document of which I could 
account for the origin from circumstances perhaps not known to 
you. I was not named in the letter, but it was hardly possible for 
me to avoid noticing it. My letter to Mr. Otis was written in great 
haste, and of course in point of composition is incorrect. It touches 
only upon the leading inaccuracies of his statement, because both 
my own want of time, and a regard to the public patience, made 
it necessary to be as short as possible. Yet it engrossed every 
leisure moment I could command for a fortnight. I mention these 
things by way of excuse for not having written more frequently to 

I have had no intention or desire of influencing elections by what 
I have written. If an impartial person will consider the situation 
in which I was placed by Mr. Pickering's letter, I think he will 
perceive that something from me was indispensable. The effects 
of my letter will, I hope, be what was intended — to promote Union 
at home, and urge to vigor against foreign hostile powers. If 
federalism consists in looking to the British navy as the only Palla- 
dium of our Liberties, I must be a political heretic. If federalism 
will please to consist of a determination to defend our Country, I 
still subscribe to its doctrines. 

My father and brother write me that my letter to Mr. Otis will 
not have much circulation. I know very well that argument for 
Embargo will not be so catching as invective against it, and if my 
countrymen are not inclined to hear me, I must bear their indiffer- 
ence with as much fortitude and philosophy as I can command. I 
should hope at least that in future, the Legislature will not be 
taken by surprize, and driven to imprudent measures, by having a 
fire-brand thrown into their windows, in the midst of their session. 

We adjourn next Monday. In a fortnight from that time I hope 
to have the pleasure of seeing you, and at least at Quincy I shall 
be sure of meeting no altered faces. . . . Your's dutifully, 

John Quincy Adams. 2 

1 See Memoirs of John Quincy Adams, 1. 528. 2 Adams mss. 

191 2.] RECALL OF J. Q. ADAMS, 1808. 363 

We have his matured opinion of Pickering's letter, an opinion 
recorded some twenty years after the event. "The letter was 
unexampled, and in principle unconstitutional. . . . The Senate 
of the United States is a branch of the legislature; and each 
Senator is a representative, not of a single State, but of the 
whole Union. His vote is not the vote of his State, but his 
own individually; and his constituents have not even the 
power of recalling him, nor of controlling his constitutional 
action by their instructions. No instance had in twenty years 
before — that is, since the existence of the Constitution of the 
United States — occurred of such an appeal by a Senator of 
the United States to the government of the State by whose 
legislature he had been chosen. Its principle was itself a dis- 
solution of the Union, — a transfer of the action of the national 
government to that of the separate States, upon objects ex- 
clusively delegated to the authority of the Union." * 

What he encountered upon his return to Boston at the close 
of the session may be gathered from certain entries in his 
Diary. The position of the leading Federalists was accurately 
given to him in uncompromising terms by Chief Justice Par- 
sons, and it contained everything that Adams regarded as 
wrong. 2 He attended the ordination of Joshua Huntington, 
and at the banquet was attacked by that political preacher, 
Dr. David Osgood, "in a rude and indecent manner on his 
reply to Pickering. I told him," said Adams, "that in con- 
sideration of his age (61) I should only remark that he had 
one lesson yet to learn, of which I recommended to him the 
study as specially necessary — and that was Christian char- 
ity." 3 tie found his old friends, as a rule, against him, and 

1 New England Federalism, 195. 2 Adams, Memoirs, 1. 534. 

3 Adams, Diary, ms. 

Dr. Joshua Fisher, of Beverly, told this story curiously suggestive of the per- 
manence of the rancorous political sentiments then prevalent. The record was 
made nearly a score of years after the events referred to in the text, and the 
occasion in question had occurred two years before, and during the J. Q. Adams 
presidential term (1825-1829). "When Quincy Adams was here two summers ago, 
my old friend Israel Thorndike wished to show him some attention. Mr. Adams 
consented to accept his hospitalities, and Mr. Thorndike made preparations for a 
grand dinner. I received an invitation, which I immediately declined, expressing 
simply my regret that I could not be present. In a few moments down came an- 
other note from Mr. Thorndike, saying: 'My dear friend, you do not perhaps 
understand that this is a large dinner in honor of the President of the United States. 
I expect the most distinguished men in the State; as one of my old friends and 


his enemies exultant. The elections, turning not upon the true 
issue of the foreign relations of the nation, but on the embargo, 
resulted in a republican governor but a Federalist legislature. 
With almost indecent haste an election for Senator was held, 
and by small majorities James Lloyd was chosen. But Adams' 
cup of mortification was still full to the brim. Not content with 
this victory the legislature passed instructions to the Senators, 
instructions which Adams could not fulfil without sacrificing 
his opinions and his self-respect. He had no alternative, and 
on June 8 he sent his resignation to the governor. He could 
not act in conformity with the instructions, and he could not 
continue to represent constituents who had so openly expressed 
a want of confidence in him. He would not aid in promoting 
measures tending to dissolve the Union and to sacrifice the 
independence of the nation. 
In Adams' measured words: 

The parties in the Commonwealth were so equally divided that the 
result of the annual elections was, till the meeting of the legislature, 
a problem. Governor Sullivan, an ardent friend of Mr. Jefferson's 
administration, was re-elected. By a representation of forty-three 
members from the town of Boston, 1 a bare Federal majority was 
secured in the House of Representatives. By the representation 
of the same town as county of Suffolk in the Senate, a bare majority 
was also obtained in that branch; and one of the first things effected 
by this majority was to elect a Senator of the United States to take 
my place after the ensuing 3d of March. The exultation with which 
this party victory was accomplished still dwells in the memory of 

neighbors, you must be present.' I had no hesitation; I declined as before, saying 
that I understood the character of the dinner, but regretted that I could not be 
present. In a short time down came Mr. Thorndike himself in his carriage, in a 
somewhat excited state, saying, 'My old friend, I don't understand this! I invite 
you to dine with the President of the United States, and you decline without giving 
any reason ! What are your reasons? Why won't you come? ' I parried this ques- 
tion in every way and as long as I could, for Mr. Thorndike and I had been warm 
friends, and I have a great regard for him. But he persevered, and at length 
I said: 'Mr. Thorndike, you force me to give the reason, and I will. It may 
be all very well for you to give John Quincy Adams a dinner as President of the 
United States, and to invite in his honor all the distinguished men of the State; 
I don't object, I have no right to. But for myself, permit me to say, I would not 
sit at the same table with the renegade.' And with this answer Mr. Thorndike 
had to be satisfied. I did not go to the dinner." Some Reminiscences of the Life 
of Samuel Kirkland Lothrop, 153. 

1 This appears to have been an error. 

igi 2.] RECALL OF J. Q. ADAMS, 1808. 365 

some of the confederates; and no one better knows than Mr. Otis by 
what means it was effected. He was one of the members of the 
Senate from the county of Suffolk, and president by the same major- 
ity which elected a successor to me. But his father, 1 then Secretary 
of the Senate of the United States — always my friend, as I was a 
warm and faithful friend to him, — told me at the time that his 
son, like himself, was mortified at the election of another person in 
my place; that his son had done everything in his power to prevent 
it, but could not; that the tide ran too strong; that " the Essex 
Junto were omnipotent." 2 

Pickering's victory was complete, and he would have been 
a true prophet who could foresee any political future for John" 
Quincy Adams. In fact Adams stood alone, not only politically 
but socially. " He walks into State Street at the usual hour 
of exchange," wrote Gore to Rufus King, "but seems totally 
unknown." He long remembered with gratitude the support 
given him by a very few of his old friends. Rev. William Emer- 

1 Samuel Alleyne Otis. 

2 Adams, New England Federalism, 202. 

"We shall choose a Senator this Session; but who it will be I cannot say. To 
take one that cannot be objected to by the friends of Mr. Adams seems the great 
Difficulty. The Federalists have been very importunate with me on this subject, 
believing that such a choice would be made as to prevent all chance of a Division. 
Whether this be true, I cannot judge, but the sacrifice of personal feeling, or of 
interest, by absence, would be greater than I think I am required to make. Mr. 
Lloyd is thought of, and would certainly be an acquisition from his commercial 
knowledge, etc., etc." Christopher Gore to Rufus King, May 28, 1808. King, 
Life and Correspondence, v. 99. There is no evidence that Harrison Gray Otis 
opposed the unseating of Adams. He was not only president of the Senate, but 
was the chairman of the Federal caucus. 

In a sketch of his career prepared for Skelton Jones of Virginia, in April, 
1809, Adams described this incident: "In the Senate of the United States, the part 
which I acted was that of an independent member. My fundamental principles, 
as I told you, were Union and Independence. I was sworn to support the existing 
administration in every measure that my impartial judgment could approve. 
I discharged my duty to my country, but I committed the unpardonable sin 
against Party. The legislature of Massachusetts by a small majority of federal 
votes in May, 1808, elected another person to represent them from the expiration 
of my term of service, and I immediately resigned the remainder of that term. 
They had passed resolutions in the nature of instructions to their Senators, which 
I disapproved. I chose neither to act in conformity with those resolutions, nor to 
represent constituents, who had no confidence in me. It was not without a painful 
sacrifice of feeling that I withdrew from the public service at a moment of difficulty 
and danger, but when the constituted organs of that country, under whom I held 
my station, had discarded me for the future, and required me to aid them in 
promoting measures tending to dissolve the Union, and to sacrifice the independ- 


son, the father of Ralph Waldo Emerson, was one of the number, 1 
John Gardner another; 2 but the circle was exceeding small. 
Josiah Quincy refused to join in any asperities against him, 
denouncing the charge of self-interest in his conduct, a charge 
now more than hinted. "His deviation from his friends is 
perfectly reconcilable with the peculiar texture of his mind, with- 
out resorting to any suspicion of his political integrity," was 
his opinion. 3 In his own family Adams found the sympathy 
he craved, and right royally was it given. His father wrote: 
"His letter to Mr. Otis I applaud and admire. His resignation 
I approve. . . . The policy of a limitation to the embargo 
is, in a national point of view, and on a large scale, a nice ques- 
tion. I should, probably, have been for it; but there is so much 
to be said on the other side, that I cannot censure my son for 
agreeing to it, without limitation, believing as he did and had 
reason to believe, that it would soon be repealed." 4 

Writing to his mother, more than two years after the struggle, 
he said: 

That a man should be deserted by his friends in the time of trial 
is so uniform an experience in the history of mankind, that I never 
had the folly to suppose that my case would prove an exception to 
it. Admiral Berkely brought on my time of trial, the only real one 
that has yet happened to me in the course of my life, and most com- 
pletely was I deserted by my friends — I mean in Boston and in the 
State legislature. I can never be sufficiently grateful to Providence 
that my father and my brother did not join in this general desertion. 
There were exceptions in the town of Boston, which I trust I shall 

ence of the nation, I was no representative for them. These were the immediate 
causes of my retirement from public life." Adams mss. 

1 Of Mr. Emerson he wrote in 181 1: "He was one of the very few friends who 
looked at me with unaltered eye, after the Junto had let loose their pack upon me, 
and the legislature of Patriotic Proceedings had dismissed me." To Abigail 
Adams, July 29, 181 1. MS. 

2 "He is still my undeviating friend. I had much conversation with him 
on political topics, and fmd him as I ever did, rational and just." Adams, 
Diary, MS. 

3 Life of Josiah Quincy, 123-125. In the Memoir of John Quincy Adams, which 
Quincy prepared late in life (published in 1856), he wrote: "A course thus inde- 
pendent, and in harmony with the policy of the administration, caused Mr. Adams 
to become obnoxious to suspicions inevitably incident to every man who, in 
critical periods, amid party struggles, changes his political relations." On the 
charge of political dishonesty, made at the time, see Adams, Memoirs, 1. 534. 

4 John Adams to William Cunningham, Jr., September 27, 1808. 

I 9 I2.] RECALL OF J. Q. ADAMS, 1808. 367 

never forget. In the legislature not one. But as to political friends, the 
loss of one was the gain of another quite as trusty, and quite as honest. 
The Junto-men, whose pretended friendship had never been any- 
thing but disguised hatred, I considered it fortunate to have stripped 
of their masks, and at open enmity. But these half-faced fellowships, 
these prudent politicians who would have been my friends, if they 
had dared, but whose credits at the banks, advertising custom, or cor- 
poration favor, depended upon their disclaiming me, have made 
their friendship fit as easy upon me as it did upon themselves. 1 

The event was almost of international importance, for Pick- 
ering's connections with the representative of the British King 
were close and more far-reaching than he would have been 
willing at the time publicly to confess. From England came 
an echo of the contest, an unholy chortle of joy from George 
Henry Rose, late envoy to the United States to adjust the 
Chesapeake affair. "In Professor Adams's downfall," he 
wrote to Pickering, "at which I cannot but be amused, I see 
but the forerunner of catastrophes of greater mark. This 
practical answer of your common constituents to his reply 
to you was the best possible. By his retreat he admits his 
conviction that you were the fitter representative of the State 
legislature. In the conversion of Massachusetts, I see the 
augury of all that is of good promise with you." 2 

One. solace he did possess, his lectures on rhetoric and elo- 
quence at Harvard College. His critics did not spare hirn in 
directing attention to his faults of style, and to dub him Pro- 
fessor was regarded as good political humor. He had not com- 
pleted his lectures before he was again called into public service, 
and from Madison he accepted the mission to Russia. In the 
last lecture, delivered July 28, 1809, in the period almost of his 
humiliation he said: "In the mortifications of disappointment, 
the soothing voice of the love of letters shall whisper serenity 
and peace. In social converse with the mighty dead of ancient 
days, you will never smart under the galling sensation of de- 
pendence upon the mighty living of the present age; and in 
your struggles with the world, should a crisis ever occur, when 
even friendship may deem it prudent to desert you ; when even 
your country may seem ready to abandon herself and you; 

1 To Abigail Adams, October 14, 1810. ms. 

2 Rose to Pickering, August 4, 1808. Adams, New England Federalism, 372. 


when even priest and levite shall come and look on you, and 
pass by on the other side; seek refuge, my unfailing friends, 
and be assured you will find it, in the friendship of Laelius 
and Scipio; in the patriotism of Cicero, Demosthenes and 
Burke; as well as in the precepts and example of him, whose 
whole law is love, and who taught us to remember injuries 
only to forgive them." 1 

In explanation of this compliment to the students he wrote 
to his brother, while on his way to St. Petersburg: 

In the valedictory part of my closing lecture, when I called the 
students my unfailing friends, and supposed the possibility of an 
occasion in their future lives, upon which friendship might deem it 
prudent to desert them, I had a meaning the whole of which they 
probably did not understand, but which others concerned did under- 
stand full well. I had seen the occasion upon which friendship did 
in more than one instance deem it prudent to desert me. But I 
had read and heard something before about the stability of human 
friendships, and I had never been guilty of supposing that human 
nature would change its character for me. The compliment to the 
students was justly their due. For they had withstood a most in- 
genious and laborious attempt to ruin me in their estimation. 

An attempt, the baseness and the cunning of which betrayed its 
origin to me, as plainly as it it had borne its name in capitals upon 
its front. An attempt upon their hearts through the medium of 
their understandings — sophistry pimping for envy. But the crawl- 
ing passions of selfish subtlety often stumble over the generous feel- 
ings of human nature, upon which they found no calculation, because 
they cannot comprehend their existence. 

Youth is generous, and although the majority of the students were 
made to believe that I was a sort of devil incarnate in politics, 
(about which I could not talk to them,) yet they never could be 
persuaded to believe that I was the ignorant impostor in literature, 
which in so many painful pages was undertaken to be proved for 
their edification. 

The last two years of my life have indeed brought home to my 
bosom the good as well as the bad workings of human nature in a 
multitude of forms, and they have all confirmed me in the belief that 
the safest guide for human conduct is integrity. I have inflexibly 
followed my own sense of duty, relying upon my own understand- 
ing. I have lost many friends and have made many enemies. Some 
of the friends that I have lost are deeply to be regretted, and most 

1 Adams, Lectures on Rhetoric and Oratory, 11. 396. 

igi2.] RECALL OF J. Q. ADAMS, 1808. 369 

of the enemies that I have made are of the most inveterate kind, 
"foes who once were friends." But on the other hand, some enemies 
have been converted into friends, and many new, unexpected and 
active friends, have risen around me, while the others were falling 
off. But the students at college are not the only steady friends that 
I have had. There are more than one further advanced in life, whose 
confidence in me has remained unshaken through good report and 
evil report. 1 

This very pointed reference to his position escaped the 
attention of Samuel Cooper Thacher, who wrote the not un- 
friendly review of the Lectures printed in the Monthly An- 
thology in April, 1810. The first and the last paragraphs of 
the review were objected to by the Club, on account of the 
mention of politics, but were retained by the casting vote of the 
Vice-President, Kirkland. 2 Thacher wrote, and without doubt 
represented the general view: "We have indeed no wish to 
disguise our sentiments on the political career of Mr. Adams. 
We have, on this subject, no sympathy with him whatever. 
We see and lament that the orb of his political glory has become 
dark — 

Irrevocably dark, total eclipse: 

Without all hope of day. — Samson Agonistes." 

He excused this expression, "lest the praise we may be bound 
in justice to bestow, should lose its value by being supposed to 
proceed from political friends." And at the close of the review 
the writer lamented that Adams had turned from the walks of 
literature, had abandoned "the laurels which he might have 
gained without a rival, to gather a barren and withering chaplet 
of political renown." He applied to him the lines of Goldsmith, 
as a man 

1 To Thomas Boylston Adams, at sea, August 7, 1809. ms. 

2 Mr. [Samuel Cooper] Thacher . . . then read a most delightful long review 
of J. Q. Adams's Lectures, which was received by all with decided approbation; 
but the first paragraph and the concluding sentence of the last was objected to, 
on account of its mention of politicks. A discussion ensued, on the propriety of 
retaining these passages, when Mr. [Joseph Stevens] Buckminsterand Mr. [William 
Smith] Shaw were for striking out, and Mr. [William] Tudor [Jr.] and Mr. [James] 
Savage for retaining. A vote was taken, when there appeared three for each side, 
and the Vice President [John Thornton Kirkland] gave it for retaining." Journal 
of the Anthology Society (Howe), 225. Shaw had received and seen through the 
press Adams' letter to Otis, and Kirkland was the author of the life prefixed to 
Fisher Ames' Works, of which Adams had written some severe criticisms. 



whose genius is such 
We scarcely can praise it or blame it too much; 
Who, born for the universe, narrows his mind, 
And to party gives up what was meant for mankind. 1 

A position taken so carefully, and maintained under such 
trying conditions, left no room for regret, either at the time 
or later. Adams never gave the slightest indication of enter- 
taining the thought that he could have acted otherwise. With 
his correspondents he was full and frank. 2 He had been governed 
by a sense of public duty: " dictated by principles more durable 
in their nature than the passions of individuals or the prejudices 
of party, I confidently trust that it will eventually be estimated 
at its true value by the general sentiment of my country." 3 
Three years after the event, in 1811, he wrote to his brother: 

This state of affairs is also calculated to turn back my reflections 
upon myself. It has led me to review my own public conduct in 
past times, and to consider my prospects and my duties for the 
future. You will already see that I find in it an additional justification 
to my own mind for the part I took in relation to our foreign affairs, 
during the last session of Congress in which I held a seat in the 
Senate. My principle was one which no result of events could pos- 
sibly shake. But in respect to policy, I always considered the 
embargo as justifiable on no other ground than that its only alterna- 
tive was war. This opinion from the necessity of the thing was 
conjectural. It is even now not demonstrable that war would have 
followed without it, but if war comes from the same operative causes 
as I believed would have produced it then, I shall certainly con- 
sider my reasoning at that time as more completely sanctioned by 
the events, than I could if it should not ensue. 4 

1 Monthly Anthology, vtii. 268. 

2 See his letters to Ezekiel Bacon, in New England Federalism, 127. 

3 "My conduct as a public man, having been invariably and exclusively gov- 
erned by a sense of public duty, I cannot but be gratified that it has met your ap- 
probation. Dictated by principles more durable in their nature than the passions 
of individuals or the prejudices of party, I confidently trust that it will eventually 
be estimated at its true value, by the general sentiment of my country. To the 
merit of good intentions it is entitled. To that of zeal for the preservation of our 
national union and independence, it has a claim equally just. The rest is in the 
judgment of others, and I shall cheerfully leave it to the deliberate decision of 
the Nation. Union and independence are the Herculean pillars of my political 
system, and if they shall ever fall, I am content to fall with them, or to say ' Sisti- 
mus hie tandem, ubi nobis defuit orbis.' " To Samuel Cleveland Blydon, July 13, 
180S. MS. 

4 To Thomas Boylston Adams, July 31, 1811. MS. 

1012.] RECALL OF J. Q. ADAMS, 1808. 371 

Twenty years after he had thus been driven from the United 
States Senate, and when he was preparing to leave the presi- 
dency under quite as humiliating conditions, these very Fed- 
eralists who had disowned him in 1808, now in 1828 sought 
to discredit him beyond remedy. The Appeal of the Massachu- 
setts Federalists is well known, and for nearly half a century 
was regarded as the last word upon the contest of 1808, as an 
irrefutable, because unrefuted, arraignment and condemnation 
of Adams. Adams did, however, prepare a reply, but for many 
reasons never published it. Not until 1877 did it see the light, 
under the title of New England Federalism, 1800-1815. Its 
note is still Union and Independence. "To resist and defeat 
that system of measures [urged by the Federalists] has been 
the greatest struggle of my life. It was that to which I have 
made the greatest sacrifices, and for which I have received, 
in the support and confidence of my country, the most ample 
rewards." To resist and defeat — let us measure the words 
by results. In resisting he was crushed by Pickering so com- 
pletely that no one looked for a restoration of political activity 
or even opportunity for public service. Pickering, the victor, 
continued unchecked his career of ambition — until the signing 
of the treaty of peace at Ghent, one of the signatories being 
this overthrown John Quincy Adams. At the very time when 
those of the Pickering faction believed they were about to gain 
its ends, the Ghent treaty overthrew its structure, defeated its 
schemes, and dishonored its agencies. Not since that time has 
there been a defender of the Hartford Convention. The 
Life of Timothy Pickering, published 1867-1873, is a deserved 
tribute to his career as a soldier, politician and statesman; 
yet it is not sufficiently full in what was one of the strong- 
est features of his activities. An ardent and able contro- 
versialist and eager to secure the success of his policies, he 
conducted a voluminous correspondence of which but a part 
was included in the Life, so that much of his best and most 
characteristic writings are yet to be gathered. This defi- 
ciency should be made good, by the publication of his writ- 
ings in every field of his varied and active career. 

To return to Adams' defense of himself prepared in 1828, 
but not published until 1877. Our colleague, John T. Morse, 
a grandson of one of the Federalists who signed the Appeal, 


in the highest terms praises this reply: "Full of deep feeling, 
yet free from ebullitions of temper, clear in statement, concise 
in style, conclusive in facts, unanswerable in argument, un- 
relentingly severe in dealing with opponents, it is as fine a 
specimen of political controversy as exists in the language. . . . 
Happy were the thirteen that they one and all went down to 
their graves complaisantly thinking that they had had the last 
word in the quarrel, little suspecting how great was their obliga- 
tion to Mr. Adams for having granted them that privilege. One 
would think that they might have writhed beneath their moss- 
grown headstones on the day when his last word at length found 
public utterance, albeit that the controversy had then become 
one of the dusty tales of history." And in a note he adds: 
"It is with great reluctance that these comments are made, 
since some persons may think that they come with ill grace 
from one whose grandfather was one of the thirteen and was 
supposed to have drafted one or both of their letters. But in 
spite of the prejudice naturally growing out of this fact, a 
thorough study of the whole subject has convinced me that 
Mr. Adams was unquestionably and completely right, and 
I have no escape from saying so. His adversaries had the ex- 
cuse of honesty in political error — an excuse which the greatest 
and wisest men must often fall back upon in times of hot party 
warfare." 1 

Such were Adams' political beliefs and actions at this crisis in 
his career. Twenty years after his preparation of the reply 
to the Appeal, and after a memorable service in the national 
House of Representatives, in which Union had ever been his 
rule of conduct, he died and became subject, at the hands 
of the well-meaning, to that summary of private endeavor 
and public service that is inflicted upon our public char- 
acters. Theodore Parker, himself not unacquainted with 
the penalties of independence, prepared a discourse on the 
event. What curious twist of mind led him to speak of the 
vote on the embargo of 1808, in which country had been put 
before both party and self, in the following terms: "His vote [for 
the embargo] however unwise, may easily have been an honest 
vote. To an impartial spectator at this day, perhaps it will 
be evidently so. His defence of it I cannot think an honest 
1 Morse, John Quincy Adams, 219, 220. 

igi2.] RECALL OF J. Q. ADAMS, 1808. 373 

defence, for in that he mentions arguments as impelling him to 
his vote which could scarcely have been present to his mind 
at the time. ... To my mind, that is the worst act of his 
public life; I cannot justify it. I wish I could find some reason- 
able excuse for it. . . . This, though not the only instance of 
injustice, is the only case of servile compliance with the Execu- 
tive to be found in the whole life of the man. It was a grievous 
fault, but grievously did he answer it; and if a long life of 
unfaltering resistance to every attempt at assumption of power 
is fit atonement, then the expiation was abundantly made." * 

In such manner was the recall applied to John Quincy Adams 
in 1808. To measure its public consequence one moment 
should be given to his successor. Who was James Lloyd? 
The question was asked at the time, and by one who, it is 
presumed, knew his political Massachusetts. Dearborn wrote 
to Dr. Eustis, June 16, 1808 : 2 

Who is Mr. Lloyd that has been elected a Senator in the place 
of J. Q. Adams? Is it the man who was here the last winter, who I 
understood was concerned in the new buildings between Long 
wharf and Fort Hill? Is he known by any body out of Boston? Why 
did they not elect Josiah Quincy, he has certainly been as zealous, 
and made as many motions in Congress, as any man they could 
send, and has on all occasions discovered as strong a disposition to 
serve his party, as any man with his tallents could do? And pray, 
why not prefer him to Mr. Lloyd, who must be a new man, as I can 
find no one who ever heard of him before we received the account of 
his election as Senator? 

Lloyd was born in 1769, the son of a physician who had been 
a "mild" loyalist during the Revolution. He sought to obtain 
from the British government some compensation for the losses 
he suffered because of his loyalty, but his claim was re- 
jected. The son entered Harvard College, and graduated in 
the same class with Adams, and at the age of seventeen. He 
bore the reputation of being a good scholar and a hard student; 
but an only son, he had been over-indulged, and a quick, 
passionate temper and a certain arrogance of manner made 
him unpopular with his fellow students. He became a mer- 

1 Parker, Discourse occasioned by the Death of John Quincy Adams, 27, 29, 31. 

2 From a ms. in the possession of Mrs. Charles S. Hamlin, who courteously- 
permitted me to use it. 


chant, passed the year of 1792 in St. Petersburg, and returning 
to Boston entered public life, serving in both houses of the 
General Court. In 1806 he had prepared the State memorial 
to the President asking that the hands of Monroe at London 
be strengthened by a special mission. When he saw that his 
political friends were intent upon electing him United States 
Senator, he wrote to Otis: 

My dear Sir, — I am extremely unwilling to run counter to the 
wishes of my political friends, to defeat their plans, or embarrass their 
proceedings. These considerations alone induce me to forbear 
attending the meeting this evening and making known my deter- 
mination. An acceptance of .the office of Senator, with the intention 
of preparing myself properly to execute its duties, I should consider 
as tantamount to a sacrifice of every thing valuable to me in life. 
The only condition therefore, on which I will consent to be a candi- 
date is, that I should be at liberty to resign the appointment when 
and as soon as I please. This I beg of you to communicate, and also 
to substitute some other candidate in my stead — i. e. if this be not 
done. I feel no doubt of my election, and this conviction increases 
and must apologize for the urgency with which I address you. A 
bad head-ache prevents my seeing you in person. I am very 

Your Obedt. Sert. 

J. Lloyd, Jr. 

Wednesday eveg., June 1, 1808. 1 

Honble Mr. Otis, Chairman of Federal meeting of the Members of the Legislature. 

He was given no time in which to prepare himself, for the 
resignation of Adams called him at once into service. He 
represented the moneyed interests, and had been concerned in 
that banking movement of 1803 which Adams had not op- 
posed, but had endeavored to free from jobbery. After a 
period in which two banks had sufficed for Boston, a new 
institution was projected, in which, it was rumored, a part 
of the stock had been set aside for members of the General 
Court. This was so obnoxious to Adams that he insisted that 
a full list of the shareholders should be submitted before the 
committee reported. The charter was later granted, and a 
course of bank creation and note-issues followed that in six 
years brought disaster. Lloyd's knowledge of commerce, it 

1 I owe this letter to the courtesy of Samuel Eliot Morison, of Boston. 

1912.] LETTERS OE JAMES LLOYD, 1815-1824. 375 

was thought, would be serviceable in Washington, and though 
a moderate Federalist, he was acceptable to Pickering, and at 
least would do nothing to antagonize his colleague. The situ- 
ation was that later pictured by Webster as the proper repre- 
sentation of Massachusetts in the Senate — one of her very 
best lawyers, and one of her most eminent merchants. 1 

In the Senate his career was judicious but without distinction, 
and he resigned in 18 13., In 18 14 he stepped into a transient 
prominence by an appeal addressed to him by John Randolph 
against the Hartford Convention, then about to meet; and 
it was Lloyd who replied that Madison should be coerced into 
retirement by his friends, and Rufus King be placed in the 
Presidency. Out of this exchange of letters grew a correspond- 
ence between John Adams and Lloyd, of which the Adams part 
has been published. He again returned to the Senate, on the 
resignation of Harrison Gray Otis, and served for four years. 
The last years of his life were spent in Philadelphia. He always 
showed respectable abilities, but it is hardly possible to assert 
that the recall in 1808 gave a better man for the place. 

The following letters are drawn from the Adams mss.: 

James Lloyd to John Adams. 

Sir, — I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your 
respected letter. 2 For the interesting details which it contains be 
pleased to accept my thanks, it will afford me some compensation 
for the repugnance under which I felt myself in a degree constrained 
to enter into a public political correspondence, that it has produced 
to me information from a source from whence I might not otherwise 
have obtained it, and the intelligence and correctness of which can- 
not be questioned. 

With regard to the relative and political circumstances of the 
United States at the time of the missions to France, I possessed 
no very minute personal knowledge. I had not then entered into 
public life, and could of consequence have retraced that era, only 
from a remembrance of the feelings and the records of the day, and 
from an occasional expression of the sentiments of some of those 
persons who were more immediately connected with the events, 
and actors in the scenes of that period. 

I am well aware however that in most political movements of 
importance, the secret springs of action are frequently more operative 
1 See p. 159, supra. 2 Printed in Works of John Adams, x. 108. 


than the ostensible ones, and as has been said on a different occasion, 
the progress of the horseman can of necessity only be proportioned 
to the speed of his horse, and that especially must this be the case, in 
a Government so essentially dependent on public opinion, and so 
liable from this and other causes to sudden vibrations as that of 
the United States. Still as I have believed, that an existing Govern- 
ment is generally found on trial to be more powerful than was ex- 
pected, I had hoped if the administration referred to, had continued 
the vigorous and spirited conduct it had assumed, and which I 
always understood emanated principally from yourself, that it might 
have carried by its own impulse the Nation along with it, and a 
happy result have been the consequence; but I am not only willing 
to admit this may have been a fallacious expectation, as most cer- 
tainly it would have been, had the public credit become as prostrate, 
and all national feeling as callous, as they seem to be at the present 
moment, but I can also very truly assure you, Sir, that I should 
receive more gratification from learning, that what I had considered 
as a mistaken policy, had resulted from a concurrence of circum- 
stances which it might have been unwise, perhaps impracticable 
to have resisted, rather than as I had before supposed from a deliber- 
ate course of measures flowing from a less imperative and controlling 
influence, — for I have too little reliance on my own opinions, 
pertinaciously to close my judgment against those of others, or to 
attempt to defend them when I may be convinced, they have been 
formed from hasty and erroneous conclusions. 

One of the few consolations with regard to my own political life 
which I enjoy is, that while receding from it, I have carried with 
me no feelings of personal animosity towards any human being 
with whom it has brought me into collision, and I can assure you, 
that sentiments of a very different description have been enter- 
tained by me towards yourself, even from a contemplation of the 
former periods of your life, when you principally assisted in laying 
the corner stone of the independence of your Countrymen, and in 
giving birth to an empire, whose destinies I should delight to hope, 
might as yet emerge with splendor, from the dark and lugubrious 
clouds, which at present so distressingly shroud and envelop them; 
and also from your conduct at a still earlier period when you nobly 
breasted the torrent of popular passion, by shielding from the effects 
of a highly-wrought public indignation, and from the aspirations of 
revenge, a man, who whatever might have been his merits or de- 
merits, as an individual on the occasion for which he was arraigned, 
undoubtedly acted either in conformity with a sense of his official 
duty, or the orders of his superiors. 

I gi 2.] LETTERS OF JAMES LLOYD, 1815-1824. 377 

As little, Sir, unless I have been extremely unhappy, unwittingly 
to myself in the expression of my opinions, can it be supposed that 
I would willingly trammel the fortunes of our Country with the 
vicissitudes of any permanent European alliance. It is true, that 
feeling a disposition in resenting the conduct of an Aggressor, to 
consider the quo animo of the Assailant, as much as his means of 
annoyance, I may have thought differently from yourself as to the 
power which merited our first attention; yet had the Nation been 
in a due state of preparation, and its Government in the hands of 
those who could control, and would direct, its resources efficiently 
and honestly, with a single view for the benefit of the whole, for the 
attainment of both reparation and security, and with a probability 
of success, my feeble voice would not have been withheld, had it 
been required for the support of any measures which would have 
avenged the wrongs, and obliterated the insults that have been 
heaped upon us by several of the Powers of Europe, during that 
momentous period which has occurred since the erection of our 
Government, and the commencement of the French Revolution. 
The latter event seems now however, at least for a time, to have 
passed away, and if history should hereafter bear evidence, that it 
has buried along with the atrocities it engendered, that destructive 
alienation and contention, which it has been in a great degree instru- 
mental in producing and sustaining in our Country, we may in our 
retrospect of its effects, derive some benefit mingled with our regrets, 
from the severe lesson it will have taught us for the future. 

By your expressions of ancient regard for the deceased members 
of my family, as well as for the dispositions you have had the good- 
ness to express towards one of their few remaining descendants I 
acknowledge myself to be both highly gratified and indebted, and 
I beg you to be persuaded it would be a source of much satisfaction 
to me, should the latter not only be continued but increased. 

With sentiments of great consideration I have the honor to be, 
Sir, Your very Respectfully obliged and Obedient Servant, 

James Lloyd. 

Boston, February 6, 1815. 

J. Lloyd has the honor to acknowledge the receipt of the letter 
of Mr. Adams, numbered 2, under date of the 6th current. 1 

The justification of "the missions to France" noticed in that 
letter Mr. Lloyd has never read, but will shortly advert to them with 
equal readiness and impartiality. In "a field of controversy" with 
Mr. Adams it was not, nor is it now, his design to enter. When put- 
ting on the armour of a combattant, his object was, by performing 
1 Works of John Adams, x. 114. 


an act of justice, to volunteer his services as a friend, and not as 
an opponent. If in this wish he has failed, it ought, and can alone 
be imputed, to the ignorance and mal-adroitness, but not to the 
disposition or intention of the auxiliary. 

Mr. Lloyd with much satisfaction presents his congratulations 
to Mr. Adams on the pleasing and unexpected news of the day. 
He does this with the greater alacrity from the conviction, that no 
conditions of peace inconsistent with the interests or the honor of 
the Nation, would have been accepted by the American Commis- 
sioners, among whom he has no doubt, Mr. J. Q. Adams has had a 
distinguished influence; and he avails of this opportunity to remark, 
that of the conduct of that gentleman while at St. Petersburg, both 
as it respects his standing at the Imperial Court, and his attention 
to his countrymen, he has heard but one sentiment expressed, that 
of unqualified respect and approbation. 

Mr. Lloyd intends at a less inclement season of the year having 
the honor personally to pay his respects at Quincy, when Mrs. Breck 
and Mrs. Lloyd will also wait on Mrs. Adams, of whom they fre- 
quently make mention in terms of the most respectful remembrance, 
and with regret that a nearer vicinage does not exist between them, 
in order that they might be enabled to enjoy more frequently the 
pleasure of her society. 

Mr. Lloyd offers to Mr. Adams the Sentiments of his high and 
most respectful consideration. 

Boston, February 13, 181 5. 

Sir, — I had the honor the last evening to receive your obliging 
letter of the 21st current. 1 

With the correspondence with which you have favored me, I 
should suppress my own sentiments without a motive for conceal- 
ment, did I not acquaint you that I have been both pleased, and 
informed — pleased with the independence of spirit, and vigour of 
intelligence, and freshness of recollection, which that correspondence 
eminently manifests; and informed by a correct narration of the 
secret history of an important political period, which I had before 
known, only by its more obvious and ostensible outlines. Nor am 
I the less gratified by the opportunity it has afforded me, of judging 
of the character of the late President of the United States, from 
the fervent emanations of his own mind, rather than from the dis- 
colored vision of others. 

In the first mention of "St. Domingo and South America" in 
your letters as connected with the sources of supply (real or imagi- 

1 Works of John Adams, x. 126. 

1912.] LETTERS OF JAMES LLOYD, 1815-1824. 379 

nary) for the then increasing expenditures of the United States, I 
had considered it intended, merely as an illustration of the destitu- 
tion of ways and means to prosecute an extensive and distant warfare; 
but from the renewed reference to those objects, I perceive some- 
thing more is meant than has yet met my eye, but I do not wish 
to impose a tax upon your kindness in the developement of it, further 
than may be both acceptable and perfectly convenient to yourself. 
Probably it might furnish a clue to an enigma I have never been 
able to resolve — the object of creating a large army for the purpose 
of waging war against France. 

Supposing naval expeditions for the purpose of permanent ter- 
ritorial acquisition to be wholly out of the question, situated as we 
then were, or now are, for an abundance of unanswerable reasons, I 
confess in such a war, I could never distinctly discern, the policy 
of raising a greater military force than would have been sufficient 
to keep alive the tone of public sentiment, by garrisoning the promi- 
nent fortifications on the Seabord, supplying the needful number 
of marines for the Navy, and leaving a residue, adequate to afford 
a germ for the future military establishments of our Country, when 
other occasions might call for them. 

Not so, Sir, with that branch of national protection which you 
have termed your hobby, but which ought to be considered as 
furnishing one of the strong evidences of your patriotism and dis- 
cernment, in the selection, encouragement, and promotion of this 
comparatively cheap, and radical, and only effectual preventive 
defense of the Nation, and for the support and extension of which 
in any way, under any circumstances, and indeed in time of profound 
peace, reasons may be found as plenty as blackberries, and had they 
been listened to, and acted on, might I have believed at a former 
period, be found fully equal to the security of our commerce, and 
also under the existing circumstances, to have scourged France 
(intangible as she was to us in most points) into a greater respect, 
and better conduct than she subsequently manifested, and which 
with the appropriation of one third part of the expenditure, that has 
been for the greater part unprofitably, if not idly wasted during the 
last three years, might at the present moment, on our own Coasts, 
and in their immediate vicinity, have controuled the Navy of any 
other nation in the world, and bid defiance, ridiculous as the opinion 
has been pretended to be, even to the Colossal Maritime Power of 
Great Britain. 

For the perusal of the letter you were pleased to enclose to me, I 
am much indebted and offer you many thanks; you may be per- 
fectly assured a knowledge of its receipt, or of its contents has rested 


and will rest, exclusively with myself. It is returned under cover 
lest you should have an early occasion to reply to, or otherwise 
use it. 

I fully enter into, and appreciate the feelings and wishes of the 
Writer, placed as he was, and which are very honorable to him. 

At present I happen to be much occupied, but from the very 
cursory consideration I have given the subject, I have taken a 
somewhat different, and perhaps less correct, though I regret to 
state, not more grateful view of the points adverted to, than that 
of this very able Negotiator. In the course of the ensuing week 
I hope to be more at leisure when I will have the honor to address 
to you a few brief remarks on the principal topicks to which the 
letter refers. 

And in the mean time, With sentiments of increased estimation 
And great respect, I am, Sir, Your obliged and obedient Servant 

James Lloyd. 

Boston, February 23, 18 15. 

Sir, — In a former note returning the letter 1 with which you 
had obligingly favored me, I had the honor to offer you my con- 
gratulations on the termination of the war, without waiting to know 
what were the grounds of the Treaty which concluded it; because 
from the tenor of the previous correspondence, and my personal 
knowledge of nearly all the Commissioners, I felt a reliance, that 
the arrangement would not be a dishonorable, altho' I acknowledge 
my rejoicing was mingled with fear lest it should be, at least in some 
points, a disadvantageous one; and this expression of feeling I 
volunteered with the more readiness, as the intelligence was received 
at a moment, when the national character had been splendidly 
illustrated by the recent atchievment at New Orleans. 

But I greeted the occurrence with smiles, principally, not because 
I expected it would bring, or restore to us all the benefits we pos- 
sessed under former treaties; but because I saw no chance but from 
this source, of happier prospects for the future; it was not however 
the storm that howled along the Lakes, or upon the seabord, that 
created the apprehensions of an instant, for the fate of the contest, 
but it was the hidden fire that was rumbling within our own bosoms, 
and which under a continuance of the war, would I believe have 
made our Country the theatre of domestic convulsions, as well as 

1 Two days after the signing of the treaty of Ghent, John Quincy Adams wrote 
to his father on the contest for the liberty to fish and to dry and cure fish within 
the exclusive British jurisdiction without an equivalent. The letter was shown 
to Lloyd, who prepared this reply. It is printed in part in Adams, Duplicate Let- 
ters, the Fisheries and the Mississippi, 210, but is now given for its intrinsic value. 

IQI2.] LETTERS OE JAMES LLOYD, 1815-1824. 381 

of foreign warfare, and perhaps from its effects, have offered up 
some parts of it, as no very difficult prey to the mercy of the enemy. 

On this head I know, Sir, you had better hopes, and thought 
differently from me, and I have now only to say I am glad the 
experiment has never come to issue. 

As the price of the purchase of an escape from evils portentous 
as these, I considered it as probable, that the English Government 
might claim from us, the contested Eastern Islands, and interdict 
all trade between us, and her colonial possessions; and possibly 
still further, that she would endeavor to extort from us the Coast 
fisheries around her own shores; for on the magnanimity or friend- 
ship of Great Britain, or of any other Nation in matters of interest, 
I confess I never had the ability, to lash my imagination into any 
sort of dependance; but I did also cherish the belief, that none of our 
essential or important rights or liberties would be diminished or 
surrendered. Of the latter, the one of the greatest consequence in 
reference to its intrinsic value, and as derived from discovery and 
possession, and confirmed by a formal treaty stipulation, is un- 
questionably that to which you have referred, the Coast Fisheries 
on the shores of the British possessions in North America. 

These fisheries, as most advantageously secured to the United 
States by the treaty of 1783, and made at the time, as I have always 
understood, a sine qua non of that treaty, principally by one of our 
then ministers, offer an invaluable fund of wealth and power to our 
Country; one which has never been duly attended to, nor justly 
appreciated, but which if continued and improved, was destined 
to grow with our growth, and strengthen with our strength, and at 
no very distant day to extract the cream of the trade as well as the 
fisheries, and to render in a great measure dependant upon, if not 
tributary to us, all the British Atlantick possessions upon this 

In reviewing the recognition of this liberty, for the Inhabitants 
of the United States, to fish without limitation of time, on all the 
Coasts of Newfoundland which British fishermen shall use, and 
also on the Coasts, Bays, and Creeks, of all other, His Britannic 
Majestys Dominions in America, and with the exception of the 
Island of Newfoundland, to dry and cure fish, on the said shores, 
wherever unsettled, or where settled, with the approbation of the 
Proprietor or possessor of the soil; it is difficult to suppress a homage 
of respect, for the talents and prescience of the Negociators on the 
one side, in obtaining the recognition of such a right or liberty, or of 
surprise at the heedlessness or obtuseness of those on the other, in 
acceding to it, except under the pressure of some great necessity. 


This liberty is in fact, looking at it in its naked state, and such 
in time of general peace it would have shortly proved itself to be, 
granting to a young, an increasing, a powerful and rival Nation, 
the ability to moor within a cables length of the shore, a cordon of 
foreign vessels around the seabord of the British Provinces of 
engrossing the better part of all the wealth they possessed, and 
setting at defiance the revenue laws, both of the Mother Country 
and the Colonies: for that vastly the larger part of the fisheries, as 
well as the more valuable of the supplies of these provinces would 
have found their way through this line of circumvallation, was as 
certain to happen, as the regular appearance of the American fisher- 
man on their Coasts. 

The prosecution of these Coast and Bay fisheries, altho' it had 
already become extremely advantageous, had undoubtedly reached in 
a very small degree, the extension and importance it was capable 
of attaining. The unsettled state of the commercial world for the 
past twenty years, and the more alluring objects of mercantile 
enterprise which such a state of things evolved, served in point of 
immediate consideration and attention, to throw these fisheries 
into the background; but still until first checked by the system of 
embargoes and restrictions, and finally stopped by a declaration 
of war, they were silently, but rapidly progressing, and reaching 
an importance, which altho' generally unknown to our Country 
and its Statesmen, had become highly alarming to the Governments, 
and more wealthy Merchants of the Provinces, and was beginning 
to attract the attention and jealousy of the Cabinet of Great Britain 
towards them. 

The shores, the creeks, the inlets of the Bay of Fundy, the Bay 
of Chaleur, the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the Straits of Bellisle, and the 
Coast of Labrador, appear to have been designed by the God of 
Nature, as the great Ovarium of fish; the inexhaustible repository 
of this species of food, not only for the supply of the American, but 
of the European Continent. At the proper season, to catch them 
in endless abundance, little more of effort is needed, than to bait 
the hook and pull the line, and occasionally even this is not necessary. 
In clear weather near the shores myriads are visible, and the strand 
is at times almost literally paved with them. 

All this was gradually making itself known to the enterprise 
and vigilance of the New England fishermen, and for a few seasons 
prior to the year 1808, the resort to this employment had become 
an object of attention from the Thames at New London, to the 
Schoodic; and boats and vessels of a small, as well as larger size, 
were flocking to it from all the intermediate ports of the United 

1912.] LETTERS OF JAMES LLOYD, 1815-1824. 383 

States. In the fishing season, at the best places for catching the 
Cod, the New England fisherman, I am told, on a Sunday swarmed 
like flies upon the shores; and that in some of these years, it probably 
would not be an over-estimate, to rate the number of vessels employed 
in this fishery belonging to the United States, at from 1500 to two 
thousand sail, reckoning a vessel for each trip or voyage, and in- 
cluding the larger boat fishery; and this number if the fisheries 
were continued, would shortly be still further, and very greatly 

The nursery for seamen, the consequent increase of power, the 
mine of wealth, the accumulation of capital (for it has been justly 
observed that he who draws a cod-fish from the sea gives a piece of 
silver to his Country,) the controul over the British North-American 
Provinces, the effect upon the trade and customs of the parent 
country, and the corresponding advantages to the United States, 
of which the enlargement of such an intercourse was susceptible, 
(for the stock of fish appears inexhaustible) you are much better 
able to conceive than I am to describe; but I with pleasure point 
them anew for your consideration, as on many accounts presenting 
one of the most interesting public objects, to which it can be devoted. 

Lucrative however, and imposing in its individual and national 
bearings as this fishery was, and was to become, it was little known 
to the leading men of our country, and little spoken of by others 
even in Massachusetts, or among those who were actually engaged 
in it; and a knowledge of its existence, in any thing like its real 
extent, or future capability, was perhaps confined to not more than 
a dozen heads, (if so many) in the whole of the Southern and Western, 
and even middle divisions of the Union. 

The causes of its value and importance, not being a matter of 
greater notoriety here, are obvious, — it was an employment not 
only in the fishery, but in many instances undoubtedly in trade, and 
in an illicit trade with the British Inhabitants, in which independ- 
ently of the dread of competition, one of the inherent attributes of 
Commerce, publicity was most carefully to be avoided; those there- 
fore who were engaged in it, made no unnecessary promulgation of 
their employment, while their co-adjutors, the poorer Inhabitants 
of the Provinces, tasting equally its sweets and advantages, were 
alike disposed to keep silence with regard to it. But not so situated 
were the Provincial Governments, and the more wealthy of the 
Merchants of the sea-port Towns. They had become highly alarmed 
at the expansion of this fishery, and trade; jealous of its progress 
and clamorous at its endurance. The former saw their own con- 
sequence abridged, their Revenue intercepted, their people alienated, 


envying the privileges and advantages of a neighboring nation, which 
their own systems would not permit them to enjoy, and witnessing 
their famous navigation act, the sheet anchor of their commercial 
supremacy, rendered in its local operation at least, a dead letter. 
They therefore of late years have repeatedly memorialized the 
Government in England respecting the fisheries carried on by the 
Americans, while the whole body of Scottish adventurers, whose 
trade both in imports and exports, and controul over the Inhabitants 
it curtailed, have turned out in full cry, and joined the chorus of 
the Colonial Governments, in a crusade against the encroachments 
of the Infidels, the Disbelievers in the Divine Authority of Kings, 
on the rights of the Provinces, and have pursued their object so 
assiduously, that at their own expense, as I am informed from a 
respectable source, in the year 1807 or 8, they stationed a watchman 
in some favorable position near the Straits of Canso, to count the 
number of American vessels which passed those Straits on this 
employment, who returned nine hundred and thirty-eight as the 
number actually ascertained by him to have passed, and doubtless 
many others during the night or in stormy or thick weather escaped 
his observation. And some of these Addressors have distinctly 
looked forward with gratification to a state of war, as a desirable 
occurrence, which would by its existence annul existing treaty stipu- 
lations so injurious as they contend to their interests, and those 
of the Nation. With what degree of correctness this expectation 
has been entertained the future must determine, but unfortunately 
these murmurs and complaints reached England and were indus- 
triously circulated, about the time that our restrictive measures, 
inefficacious at best and rendered still more so from never having 
been fully executed, awakened an unusual and critical attention to 
the commercial connexion between the two Countries; and prob- 
ably the value and importance of this branch of it, is now at least as 
fully understood, and appreciated, on the eastern as on the western 
side of the Atlantick. 

Carried away by first impressions a large part of mankind become 
not unfrequently the dupes of misconception, and adhere to their 
opinions with a pertinacity proportioned to the time they have 
entertained them; from a source something like this, it has been, 
and is generally, I might almost say universally believed by the 
mass of our countrymen, that the right of fishing on the Banks of 
Newfoundland, or as it is popularly called, the Grand Bank, was 
the great boon acquired, as it respected the fisheries, by the 
treaty of 1783. While unquestionably the fisheries of the Banks 
of Newfoundland, no more belonged exclusively in possession, or 

igi2.) LETTERS OF JAMES LLOYD, 1815-1824. 385 

the right of controul, either to Great Britain or the United States 
than the air of Heaven is the patent property of both, or either of 
them, with the power to dole out its use to such other Nations, as 
agree to conform to the stipulations they may please to prescribe for 
its enjoyment, — if any thing was gained or secured on this head, 
it undoubtedly was, the Coast fisheries on the shores of the British 
Provinces. This is the fishery which will now come under discussion 
at least, if not into contest between the two countries. It is highly 
important that correct ideas of its value and extent should be enter- 
tained; and perhaps these could not be more perspicuously traced 
than by taking a relative view of it, compared with the mode of 
prosecuting and the importance of the Bank fishery. This I will 
now briefly attempt, confident if in doing it I should be reiterating 
to you the communication of facts, of a knowledge of which you are 
already in possession, the motive will bring along with it its own 
sufficient apology. 

The Bank fishery is carried on in vessels generally of from 70 to 
90 ton, burthen, and manned with eight or ten men each. They 
commence their voyages early in March and continue in this em- 
ployment until the last of October, in which time they make two 
and sometimes three fares to the United States, bringing their fish home 
to be cured. The produce of these trips if successful, after paying 
the shoresmen the expense of making or curing, generally furnishes 
a sufficient quantity of dried fish to load the vessel for Europe. These 
vessels employed in fishing, require cables of from 160 to 180 fathoms 
in length, they must always keep their sails bent to the yards, so as 
to be ready in case of accident to the cable, or to any of those adverse 
occurrences to which tempests, or the casualties incident to anchoring 
nearly in mid-ocean must expose them. They purchase salted clams 
for bait, which they procure at considerable expense and take with 
them from the United States. They fish night and day when the 
fish bite well, which is not always the case, and haul their cod in a 
depth of water of from 45 to 55 fathoms. After catching, they head 
and open the fish, and place them in the hold in an uncured, and 
consequently in some degree in a partially perishing state, and 
after having obtained a fair or freight, return with it to the United 
States to be cured or dried and prepared for exportation; but before 
this is done, or they can be landed, the fish is always more or less 
deteriorated, becomes softer, and part of it makes an inferior quality 
of fish, called Jamaica fish, which is generally one third less in price 
than what is considered as merchantable fish. And the proportion 
of this Jamaica fish is much greater than it would have been, had 
the fish been dried and cured shortly after having been taken, as is 



the case with the Coast and Bay fishery; in addition to which, these 
vessels employed in the Bank fishery are unavoidably obliged to 
prosecute their business with a great comparative expense as to the 
wear and tear of their vessels, and loss of time, and with an increased 
degree of hazard, both as to safety and success. 

The Coast, and Labrador fisheries, are prosecuted in vessels 
of from 40 to 120 tons burthen, carrying a number of men, according 
to their respective sizes in about the same proportion as the vessels 
on the Bank fishery. They commence their voyages in May, and 
get on the fishing ground about the 1st of June, before which time 
Bait cannot be obtained. This Bait is furnished by a small species 
of fish called Capling, which strike in shore at that time, and are 
followed by immense shoals of Cod-fish which feed upon them. 
Each vessel selects its own fishing ground, along the coasts of the 
Bay of Chaleur, the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the Straits of Bellisle, 
the Coast of Labrador, and even as far as Cumberland Island and 
the entrance of Hudsons Bay, thus improving a fishing ground 
reaching in extent from the 45th to the 68th degree of North 

In choosing their situation, the fishermen generally seek some 
sheltered and safe harbour or cove, where they anchor in about 6 or 
7 fathoms water, unbend their sails, stow them below, and literally 
making themselves at home, dismantle and convert their vessels 
into habitations at least as durable, as those of the Ancient Scythians. 
They then cast a net over the stern of the vessel, in which a sufficient 
number of Capling are soon caught to supply them with bait from 
day to day. Each vessel is furnished with four or five light boats 
according to her size, and number of men, each boat requiring two 
men; they leave the vessel early in the morning, and seek the best, 
or a sufficiently good spot for fishing, which is frequently found 
within a few rods of their vessel, and very rarely more than one or 
two miles distant from it, where they haul the fish as fast as they 
can pull their lines, and sometimes it is said, the fish have been so 
abundant as to be gaft, or scooped into the boats without even a 
hook or line; and the fishermen also say, that the Cod-fish have 
been known to pursue the Capling in such quantities, and with 
such voracity, as to run in large numbers quite out of water, on to 
the shores. 

The boats return to the vessels about 9 o'clock in the morning at 
breakfast, put their fish on board and salt and split them, and after 
having fished several days, by which time the salt has been sufficiently 
struck in the fish first caught, they carry them on shore, and spread 
and dry them on the rocks or temporary flakes. This routine is 

191 2.] LETTERS OF JAMES LLOYD, 1815-1824. 387 

followed every day, with the addition of attending to such as have 
been spread, and carrying on board and stowing away those that 
have become sufficiently cured, until the vessel is filled with dried 
fish fit for an immediate market, which is generally the case by 
the middle or last of August, and with which she then proceeds im- 
mediately to Europe, or returns to the United States. And this 
fish thus caught, and cured, is esteemed the best that is brought 
to market, and for several years previous to that of 1808, was com- 
puted to furnish three fourth parts of all the dried fish exported from 
the United States. 

This fishery was also about that time taking a new form, which 
would have had a double advantage both in point of profit and 
extension, for some of our merchants were beginning to send their 
large vessels to the Labrador Coast and its vicinity, to receive there, 
from small fishing boats they employed, or purchased from, cured 
fish, to load their vessels with immediately for Europe; thus saving 
so great an expense in getting the fish to market abroad, as would 
in a short time have given our merchants a command of the European 
markets, and would have also afforded an encouragement, to a small 
but very numerous boat-fishery, which from receiving the pay for 
their labor on the spot, could not fail to have been very greatly 
excited and increased; and enabling the persons concerned in the 
exportation from the coast, to receive at home the proceeds of their 
adventures from abroad, about as early as the Bank fish could have 
been put into a state, fit to be exported from the United States. 
In addition to which we were prosecuting a very productive salmon 
and mackerel fishery in the same vicinity, as most of the pickled 
fish of this description, we had received for some years prior to the 
war, were caught on those shores. 

This Coast fishery then, most highly important and invaluable 
as I think it must be admitted to be, even from the foregoing hasty 
and imperfect sketch of it, merits every possible degree of attention 
and effort for its preservation on the part of the Government of the 
United States. The refusal of the British Commissioners to renew, 
or recognize the stipulation of the treaty of 1783 respecting it, and 
the notification, I hope not formally given, that it would not here- 
after be permitted without an equivalent, are alarming indications 
in reference to the future peaceable prosecution of this fishery, 
and of the dispositions of the British Government with regard 
to it. 

The difference of expression used in the third article of the Treaty 
of Peace of 1783, as to the right of fishing on the Banks of Newfound- 
land, and the liberty of fishing on the coasts of the British Provinces 


in North America, however it might have originated, affords a 
diversity of expression, which in the present instance will be seized 
upon, and be made to give to the Partizans of Great Britain, and 
of the Provinces, a popular colour of justice in support of their argu- 
ment, when they contend, as I think they probably will do, that 
in so important a compact, this variance of language could not have 
been a matter of accident, — that if precision in the use of terms in 
their most literal sense, is any where to be expected, it is certainly 
to be looked for, in an instrument which is to form the paramount 
law between two nations whose clashing interests have brought 
them into collision, and which is generally framed by men of the 
most distinguished talents of each party, the acuteness of whose 
perception is always kept in full play, by the contending pretensions 
they have respectively to consult and sustain, and that therefore 
a distinction was made, and was intended to be made, at the time of 
the Negotiation between a right derived from the God of Nature, 
and to be exercised on the common field of his bounty, the great 
high- way of Nations; and the liberty, permission, or indulgence, as 
they will phrase it, to continue the exercise of an employment on 
the coasts, at the very doors, and within the peculiar and especial 
jurisdiction of another Nation, — the one, according to this doc- 
trine, being a right inherent, and not to be drawn in question, the 
other a sufferance open to modification, or denial altogether, sub- 
sequently to a war, according to the will or the interests of the party 
originally acceding to it. 

This liberty, for the expression of the treaty, in the discussion 
between the two nations must be admitted, whether it operate ad- 
versely or favorably to us, rests for its continuance, either as we 
assert, on the ground of right, as an anterior possession and a per- 
petual franchise, or as the British will contend on the existence of 
the treaty of '83. The first ground is to be supported on the view 
taken of it in your own letter, and that which you had the goodness 
to communicate to me — and even on the second, admitting, pro 
forma, that a declaration of war, does ipso facto, abrogate all previous 
treaty stipulations brought into contest by it, unless tacitly or 
expressly renewed by a new treaty, to be an acknowledged principle 
of international law, still the right in question would I believe rest 
untouched, and unaffected; altho' I know not, with what degree of 
decision or determination, the negation of a future use of the 
Coast fisheries was brought forward in the n